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Cybercrime

Two Dozen Arrested for Laundering Funds From BEC, Other Scams

Twenty-four individuals were arrested for laundering funds illegally obtained via business email compromise (BEC), romance, and retirement account scams targeting victims across the United States.

The large-scale fraud operation facilitated by the arrested individuals has caused losses of more than $30 million, the Department of Justice has revealed.

Twenty-four individuals were arrested for laundering funds illegally obtained via business email compromise (BEC), romance, and retirement account scams targeting victims across the United States.

The large-scale fraud operation facilitated by the arrested individuals has caused losses of more than $30 million, the Department of Justice has revealed.

The defendants allegedly served as money launderers for individuals worldwide, by receiving and distributing funds obtained through cyber-enabled fraud such as BEC and other types of scams, including those targeting the elderly.

Losses from BEC and email account compromise (EAC) schemes exceeded $1.7 billion in 2019, representing half of the total losses from Internet crime reported for last year.

This type of fraud involved tricking employees at a company, usually an employee that can authorize wire payments, to transfer money to the attackers, who impersonate a legitimate business partner of the target company. BEC scammers typically employ networks of mules to transfer the illegally obtained funds, often to bank accounts abroad.

In this case, the suspects are believed to have laundered over $30 million in fraud proceeds from various types of Internet crimes. For that, they created multiple sham companies, opened business bank accounts and personal bank accounts to receive fraudulent funds, and quickly withdrew money deposited in their bank accounts.

The defendants are from Georgia (Darius Sowah Okang, George Kodjo Edem Adatsi, Desire Elorm Tamakloe, Solomon Agyapong, Afeez Olaide Adeniran, Stephen Abbu Jenkins, Francesco Benjamin, Hamza Abdallah, Prince Sheriff Okai, Kelvin Prince Boateng, Monique Wheeler, Kahlia Andrea Siddiqui, Alexus Ciera Johnson, Abubakar Sadik Ibrahim, Emanuela Joe Joseph, Obinna Nwosu, 26, Ojebe Obewu Ojebe, and Gregory Thomas Hudson), Texas (Dominique Raquel Golden and Joshua Roberts), Missouri (Jonathan Kojo Agbemafle), Colorado (Matthan Bolaji Ibidapo), and Nigeria (Blessing Oluwatimilehin Ojo).

Darius Sowah Okang is also charged with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, while Afeez Olaide Adeniran and Blessing Ojo are also charged with wire fraud.

The DoJ also announced that 17 other individuals were charged in two related cases, with various counts of bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and conspiracies to commit these offenses.

“Fraud schemes, like the ones perpetrated and facilitated by these defendants, inflict considerable losses on citizens, companies, and the financial system. Some of these schemes target the elderly and often deplete the victims’ entire life savings. These arrests affirm the Department of Justice’s commitment to prosecuting those who prey on our most vulnerable citizens,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak commented.

Related: BEC Group Abuses Google G Suite in Scheme Targeting Thousands of Firms

Related: BEC Losses Surpassed $1.7 Billion in 2019: FBI

Related: Lithuanian Man Sentenced to Prison Over BEC Scheme Targeting Facebook, Google

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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