Ten individuals of Nigerian origin have been arrested by Guardia di Finanza for laundering millions of pounds acquired from frauds causing loss of over €2.5 / $2.74million.
The Italian Financial Police conducted an operation with the support of Europol and the Federal Bureau of Intelligence and 130 police officers and arrested ten Nigerians. The operation was extended to Europe and the United States.
The individuals were part of a global international cyber gang running business email compromise (BEC) and romance scams. These impacted huge number of companies and individuals, says Europol.
Payment Diversion Fraud or BEC is a tactfully planned scan involving collection of information about any particular firm or its business partners.
After identifying the way money transactions were carried out, the fraudsters impersonated as one of the suppliers of the firm or as a customer and request the payment in-charge staff to transfer the amount to another account instead of the regular one. The new account was being controlled by the cybercriminal group.
Impersonating as a business partner generally is done by using spoofed email addresses and also by fake fax communication and/or sometimes on phone, says the Internet Crime Complaint Centre/IC3.
The IC3 revealed in its report on BEC scams that there were 1,198 victims of such scams in 2014 only in the US while total financial loss occurred was around $180 / €164 million. On the other hand, the number of victims at a global scale was 2,126 whereas the cumulative financial loss was around $215 / €196 million.
According to Europol the arrested Nigerians were also accused of romance scams that targeted members of dating websites. To arrest them, the law enforcement officers tracked the money trail of fake transactions and identified end destination across numerous jurisdictions.
Europol states: “The criminal group relied on a network of accomplices who operated a sort of coordinated ‘bank run’ within a few hours in order to make withdrawals in cash from the bank accounts chosen as final destinations.”