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Australia Dismantles BEC Group That Laundered $1.7 Million

Law enforcement in Australia announce the arrest of four individuals accused of running business email compromise (BEC) schemes.

The Australian Federal Police on Friday announced the arrest of four individuals accused of being involved in business email compromise (BEC) and other types of online fraud.

The group, authorities say, orchestrated more than 15 sophisticated cybercrime attacks and allegedly operated approximately 180 bank accounts to support criminal activities.

Between January, 2020, and March, 2023, police say the cybercriminals created more than 80 bank accounts using stolen identities, to transfer stolen money out of Australia. Bank accounts in South Africa were used to launder roughly $1.1 million.

Overall, the group is believed to have laundered more than $1.7 million from BEC attacks, Facebook marketplace scams, and fraudulent superannuation investments.

Individual losses ranged between $2500 and close to $500,000, with one Indonesian company losing over $100,000 in a BEC attack.

The suspects, two men and two women, are charged with possessing and producing false documents, dishonestly dealing in personal financial information, and dealing in proceeds of crime.

The arrests were announced alongside a fresh warning from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about BEC schemes where cybercriminals use spoofed email domain addresses to initiate the bulk purchase of goods from vendors in the US.

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According to the FBI, the orders seem legitimate, but the cybercriminals provide fake credit references and fraudulent forms to vendors and ask for credit repayment terms, which allows them to place orders without providing upfront payment.

“Victimized vendors ultimately discover the fraud after attempts to collect payment are unsuccessful or after contacting the company they believed had initially placed the purchase order, only to be notified that the source of the emails was fraudulent,” FBI’s alert explains (PDF).

As part of the observed attacks, the cybercriminals ordered construction materials, agricultural supplies, computer technology hardware, and solar energy products.

Related: US Food Companies Warned of BEC Attacks Stealing Food Product Shipments

Related: Fugitive Arrested After 3 Years on Charges Related to BEC Scheme

Related: Three Nigerian BEC Fraudsters Extradited From UK to US

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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