Authorities in Hungary have arrested close to a hundred individuals as part of two operations meant to crack down on invoice fraud, Europol announced this week.
Also referred to as business email compromise (BEC), invoice fraud involves impersonating or compromising email addresses of employees at one organization and then sending fake invoices to partner companies, to request fund transfers.
The emails are typically sent to executives or individuals authorized to make payments and carry legitimate-looking invoices that ask the recipient to make a payment to a bank account owned by the attackers.
The Budapest Metropolitan Police has dismantled two crime rings that defrauded roughly 90 organizations of approximately €2.8 million (~$2.85 million). The operations were carried out in November 2021, but their details were only disclosed now due to operational reasons.
“The criminals would impersonate a service company to inform their victims that the service company now had a new bank account to which the payments for the provided services should be sent,” said Europol, which provided support to the Hungarian authorities during the operations.
The law enforcement agency also noted that the attackers were using a sophisticated money laundering infrastructure in an attempt to prevent authorities from tracing their illegal gains.
Also this week, the US Department of Justice announced charges against Timothy Scott Marable, 50, from Lake Placid, Florida, who allegedly participated in a BEC scheme between November 2019 and August 2020.
According to the indictment, as part of the scheme, Marable received more than $2.7 million in fraudulent transfers to various bank accounts he owned. Companies in Alabama, Ohio, Idaho, and Texas fell victim to the BEC scheme, the DoJ says.
Marable has been charged with two counts of wire fraud.
According to the FBI, losses from BEC fraud have surpassed $43 billion globally. Last year, the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received close to 20,000 BEC complaints with estimated adjusted losses of $2.4 billion.