The United States government has arrested six Nigerians for alleged $6 million internet fraud.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and posted on the Treasury Department website on Tuesday.
Mr Pompeo said the Nigerians targeted U.S. businesses and individuals through Business Email Compromise (BEC) and romance fraud.
He said the U.S. will not tolerate such gross misuse of technology, vowing, that the country will use all of the tools “at our disposal to defend the American people and businesses from malign actors that seek to target them.”
The suspects are: Richard Uzor. – BEC scam – a loss in excess of $6,300,000 was attributed to the scam led by him and an accomplice; Michael Olorunyomi – Romance Fraud – losses exceeding $1 million was attributed to him.
Alex Ogunshakin, an accomplice to Mr Uzor, was allegedly contacting victims; Felix Okpoh- Romance Fraud – allegedly provided financial materials and technological tools to Mr Uzor.
Nnamdi Benson – Romance Fraud and money laundering; and Abiola Kayode – BEC and Romance Fraud – allegedly provided bank accounts to individuals involved in the scheme.
Mr Pompeo said the arrest was in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
He also said individuals such as the elderly, women and those who have lost spouses were often targeted by the suspects, according to information received by the FBI Internet crime complaints centres on romance fraud.
“Today, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control took action against six Nigerian nationals, pursuant to Executive Order 13694 as amended, for conducting an elaborate online scheme to steal more than $6 million from victims across the United States.
“The six individuals designated today manipulated their victims to gain access to their sensitive information and financial resources. The U.S. will not tolerate such gross misuse of technology.
“The United States will use all of the tools at our disposal to defend the American people and businesses from malign actors that seek to target them, including cyber-enabled actors who prey on vulnerable Americans and businesses.
“Technological advancements that provide greater interconnectivity also offer greater opportunity for exploitation by malicious actors who target at-risk Americans. Mr Pompeo said.
Last year, the FBI had arrested 29 Nigerians alongside 43 others from other countries in a global “Operation Wire Wire” for email scam.
According to the bureau, the criminal scheme, which was used by the suspects, originated from Nigeria.
It said the arrest resulted in the seizure of nearly $2.4 million, and the recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfer.