Who among us has not received hundreds if not thousands of e-mails from scammers in Nigeria and elsewhere trying to separate us from some or all of our money.
Most of them are patently ridiculous, and you would have to be a child or an unconscious adult to fall for such foolishness.
However, every once in a while along comes an ambitious young man with a fresh twist on an old swindle. One such individual was recently arrested when he entered the United States at Baltimore, Maryland.
Business E-Mail Compromise
The 28-year-old from Lagos, Nigeria, is charged with wire fraud for his role in a scheme that has come to be known as the Business E-Mail Compromise.
The man and his cohorts allegedly sent out phony e-mails to businesses in Texas and elsewhere that caused the targeted companies to pay millions of dollars to satisfy fictitious invoices.
Among the victims were major corporations such as Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase.
The fake e-mails appear to be forwarded messages from a top executive at the company. They are sent to an employee in the company’s accounting department who has authority to make financial transfers for the business.
Even though the e-mails appear to be legitimate company business, they actually are coming from a bogus e-mail account created to look authentic.
Phony domain name
A fraudulent domain name is used that contains a minor change from the real company’s e-mail address, often transposed letters. Even the most alert reader with perfect vision can fail to spot the typographical error.
By complying with the phishing e-mail instructions to transfer funds, the companies find themselves short about $100,000 when it comes time to balance the books.
The Nigerian who showed up in Baltimore is supposedly linked to one such rip-off. Wire fraud is a serious offense that could put a person behind bars for 30 years if he is found guilty in a court of law.
Authorities estimate that at least 7,000 businesses in the United States and more than 1,000 businesses abroad have been victimized. The total loss to the U.S. victims is around $747 million.
Anyone who has information about such illegal activity is urged to contact the FBI at 972-559-5000.