The effort, which involved local and federal law enforcement agencies, called Operation Wire Wire, resulted in “74 arrests in the U.S. and overseas, including 42 in the U.S., 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland,” a statement of the FBI said on Monday. The cases involve a growing type of fraud known as “business email compromise” that targets employees with access to corporate finances. The fraudsters send emails that appear to be from trusted corporate executives or vendors, which instruct targeted employees to wire funds to accounts controlled by criminals.
“This operation demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that target American citizens and their businesses,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. Over the course of the last 12 months, only agents in Miami have indicted 23 suspects in south Florida who are part of the transnational fraud ring. The victims ranged from small to large-sized companies which transferred large amounts of money and sometimes sensitive records to criminals operating what’s known as international business email compromise and email account compromise schemes. Businesses and individual entrepreneurs were defrauded of more than $3.7 billion in recent years. Authorities said they have seized, recovered or disrupted more than $16m (£12m) since January. In one case, two Nigerians living in Dallas posed as a property seller when requesting a $246,000 wire transfer from a real estate attorney.