Three Nigerian nationals are facing federal charges in the United States over their alleged involvement in a fraud scheme that resulted in losses of more than $6 million. Kosi Goodness Simon Ebo, James Junior Aliyu, and Henry Onyedikachi Echefu have been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering related to a business email compromise (BEC) scheme.
Simon-Ebo, the first defendant, was extradited from Canada to the US and is set to appear in court in Greenbelt, Maryland, before US Magistrate Judge Amjel Quereshi. The charges stem from a seven-count indictment that accuses the defendants and their co-conspirators of accessing email accounts belonging to businesses and individuals targeted by the scheme.
The indictment alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators then sent false wiring instructions to the victims’ email accounts from “spoofed” emails, which are emails with forged sender addresses. This was done to deceive the victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by the perpetrators of the scheme, also known as “drop accounts.”
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has described the case as one of the largest BEC schemes investigated in Maryland to date. The DOJ further stated that the investigation was carried out by the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office and that the case highlights the continued threat posed by BEC schemes to businesses and individuals.
BEC scams are a form of cybercrime that involves using email to deceive targets into transferring money or sharing sensitive information. In recent years, BEC schemes have become increasingly sophisticated, and the losses associated with them have skyrocketed. According to the FBI, BEC schemes resulted in losses of $1.8 billion in 2020 alone.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud conspiracy, for the money laundering conspiracy, and for each count of wire fraud. The case is a reminder of the need for businesses and individuals to be vigilant and take steps to protect themselves from BEC scams.
The charges brought against these three Nigerian nationals highlight the importance of cybersecurity and the need for individuals and businesses to be cautious when sharing sensitive information or transferring funds. Keywords: Nigerian nationals, BEC scam, wire fraud, money laundering, cybercrime, DOJ, FBI