- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2018

Federal authorities have arrested 74 people — including 42 in the United States — for allegedly hijacking wire transfer funds through a sophisticated email scam, the Justice Department said Monday.

The arrests were part of Operation Wire Wire, a six-month investigation by the Justice Department, U.S. Postal and Inspection Service, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Treasury.

In total, arrests were made in five countries, including the United States. Roughly $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers were recovered and nearly $2.4 million was seized, according to the Justice Department.

All told, 29 individuals were arrested in Nigeria, and three were apprehended in Canada, Mauritius and Poland.

Federal authorities allege the individuals impersonated employees or business executives after gaining access to their email accounts, better known as a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scheme. Hackers initiate BEC scams by impersonating a business executive after gaining access to their email accounts. They then use the accounts to direct employees to transfer funds into bank accounts controlled by criminals.

The elderly are particularly vulnerable to such schemes, said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“Fraudsters can rob people of their life’s savings in a matter of minutes,” Mr. Sessions said announcing the arrests. “These are malicious and morally repugnant crimes.”

Since January, law enforcement agents have targeted 51 domestic BEC scammers and seized assets totaling nearly $1 million, the Justice Department said.

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