The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Christopher Wray has warned criminals involved in business email compromise (BEC) schemes that they will be arrested no matter where they carry out their illegal activities from.
His comments were captured in an FBI statement released in the aftermath of 281 arrests worldwide relating to a month-long multi-agency effort to disrupt and dismantle international business email compromise (BEC) schemes.
The FBI in a statement said the busts were part the Operation reWired effort which made arrests in the United States, Nigeria, Turkey, Ghana, France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.
The coordinated law enforcement sweep resulted in the seizure of nearly $3.7 million and the disruption and recovery of approximately $118 million in fraudulent wire transfers.
“The FBI is working every day to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that target our businesses and our citizens,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Through Operation reWired, we’re sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these BEC schemes: We’ll keep coming after you, no matter where you are.”
These sophisticated cyber-enabled scams often target employees with access to company finances and—using methods like social engineering and computer intrusions—trick them into making wire transfers to bank accounts thought to belong to trusted partners. The accounts are actually controlled by the criminals”, the FBI statement said.
The FBI worked with partner agencies in the USA and in multiple countries around the world on Operation reWired.
The operation follows last year’s Operation WireWire, a similar effort that led to total 74 arrests and the seizure of $2.4 million. Thirty-nine of the FBI’s 56 field offices participated in this year’s sweep alongside state and local task force officers and partner agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
“The effects of this crime are far-reaching, and the dollar amounts involved are staggering. Since the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began formally tracking BEC (and its variant, email account compromise, or EAC) in 2013, it has gathered reports of more than $10 billion in losses from U.S. victims alone. The worldwide tally is more than $26 billion”.