Nigerian and US authorities said Tuesday that nearly 300 people had been arrested in a months-long global crackdown on online scams to hijack wire transfers from companies and individuals.
“Operation rewired” broke up multiple groups, many party of transnational criminal gangs, running the so-called business email compromise (BEC) schemes by which they steal money being used in payments.
The schemes, with the us justice department said originated in Nigeria, have spread worldwide and led to some $1.3 billion in losses reported worldwide in 2018, double the previous year.
A “sweep” operation from may through to September, with Nigeria’s Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), “focused on dismantling the most significant cyber criminal enterprises,” FBI legal attaché Ahamdi Uche told a joint press conference in Lagos
The operation has led to 167 people arrested in Nigeria, 74 in the United States, many of them Nigerian nationals, 18 in Turkey and 15 in Ghana.
Adding other arrests in France, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Britain and Kenya, a total of 281 people have been arrested and $3.7 million seized in operation rewired, the justice department said.
Africa’s most populous country is saddled with an infamous reputation for online fraud.
The FBI began working closely with several countries including Nigeria’s anti-graft agency in may 2019 to tackle online fraud networks active in the United States.