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Operation reWired: 281 suspects arrested in Business Email Compromise crackdown

Operation reWired: 281 suspects arrested in Business Email Compromise crackdown
  • Operation reWired, a massive effort targeted at Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes, has resulted in the arrest of 281 suspects.
  • The arrests were made in multiple countries including Nigeria, United States, Turkey, and Ghana. Nearly $3.7 million was seized and around $118 million was recovered in fraudulent wire transfers.

What is BEC?

Business Email Compromise is an online scam in which an attacker disguised as a corporate executive, convinces the employees of the organization, clients, or partners to transfer funds.

BEC scams may also target personally identifiable information (PII) or employee tax records in addition to money.

The big picture

FBI announced the arrest of 281 alleged email scammers as a result of Operation reWired.

  • Out of the 281 arrests, 167 were made in Nigeria, 74 in the United States, 18 in Turkey, and 15 in Ghana. Other arrests were also made in Kenya, Japan, France, Italy, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.
  • Officials seized $3.7 million in cash and recovered $118 million in fraudulent wire transfers.
  • The operation, that spanned over a period of four months, was a coordinated effort by FBI officers, local task force officers, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and U.S. Department of the Treasury.
  • Operation reWired follows last year’s Operation WireWire, which was a similar effort that resulted in 74 arrests.

What should you do?

If you have reasons to believe that you are a victim of a BEC scheme, contact law enforcement officers immediately. As preventive measures, the Internet Crime Complaint Center recommends:

  • Use two-factor authentication to verify account-related changes.
  • Ensure that hyperlinks are not misspelled names of legitimate domains.
  • Make sure emails that request fund transfers are authentic before performing any financial transactions.
  • Avoid providing personal information in email responses.
  • Educate employees about online scams, and equip them with preventive and mitigative strategies.
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