Three Nigerians have been extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States to face charges in relation to their roles in business email compromise (BEC) fraud schemes, the US Department of Justice announced.
The three – Oludayo Kolawole John Adeagbo, Donald Ikenna Echeazu, and Olabanji Egbinola – allegedly caused losses of more than $5 million as part of schemes that targeted, among others, universities in North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
As part of BEC scams, cybercriminals impersonate another employee or a key business partner and target employees that have access to an organization’s finances with a fake invoice, convincing the victim to transfer funds to an account controlled by the attackers.
Oludayo Kolawole John Adeagbo, 43, a Nigerian citizen and UK resident, and Donald Ikenna Echeazu, 40, a dual UK and Nigerian citizen, are charged with defrauding a North Carolina university of over $1.9 million.
According to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury, the two gathered information about an ongoing multi-million-dollar construction project at the North Carolina university, along with other construction projects throughout the US.
The defendants then registered a fake domain and created an email address mimicking that of the legitimate construction company working with the university and tricked the university into sending over $1.9 million to the bank account of a co-conspirator.
They then laundered the funds through various financial transactions meant to conceal the fraud.
For their roles in this scheme, Adeagbo and Echeazu face up to 22 years in prison – up to 20 years for wire fraud and a mandatory two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft.
Olabanji Egbinola allegedly conspired to defraud a Virginia-based university, also by impersonating a construction company working with the higher education institution. Using a fraudulent email account, the defendant tricked the university into transferring roughly $470,000 to a bank account controlled by the attackers, and then quickly laundered the money.
Adeagbo is also charged for his participation in a BEC scheme targeting local governments, construction companies, and a college in Texas, in an attempt to steal over $3 million. If found guilty, he may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
According to the indictment, Adeagbo and his co-conspirators registered domains resembling those of legitimate companies and then sent fake emails from those domains, deceiving customers of the impersonated companies into sending wire payments to bank accounts the attackers controlled.
Adeagbo, Echeazu, and Egbinola were arrested in the UK in April 2020.
Related: Crackdown on BEC Schemes: 100 Arrested in Europe, Man Charged in US
Related: FBI: Losses From BEC Scams Surpass $43 Billion
Related: Nigerian Authorities Arrest 11 Members of Prolific BEC Fraud Group