Tag: fbi

US Catches Scammers on Instagram

Olalekan Jacob Ponle, known as “mrwoodbery” to his Instagram followers, flaunted his wealth, including a new Lamborghini he had in Dubai.

He was arrested by Dubai Police for alleged money laundering and cyber fraud.

A number of African criminals were caught in the dramatic operation, including 37-year-old Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, “hushpuppi” or just “hush” as he was known by his 2.4 million Instagram followers.

Police in the emirate say they recovered $40m in cash, 13 luxury cars worth $6.8m, 21 computers, 47 smartphones and the addresses of nearly two million alleged victims.

Mr Abbas and Mr Ponle were both extradited to the US and charged in a Chicago court with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and laundering hundreds of millions of dollars obtained from cybercrimes.

It is a spectacular crash for the two Nigerian men who extensively documented their high-flying lifestyle on social media, raising questions about the sources of their wealth.

They unwittingly provided crucial information about their identities and activities for American detectives with their Instagram and Snapchat posts.

Business Email Compromise Scam

The criminals used various scams including the 419 Advance Fee scam but the most lucrative was Business Email Compormise.

They are accused of impersonating legitimate employees of various US and tricking the recipients into transferring millions of dollars into their own accounts.

In one case, a foreign financial institution allegedly lost $14.7m in a cyber-heist where the money ended up in hushpuppi’s bank accounts in multiple countries.

The FBI affidavit alleges that he was involved in a scheme to steal $124m from an unnamed English Premier League team.

“The scammer would gather contextual details, as they watched the legitimate email flow,” explains Crane Hassold, Agari’s senior director of threat research.

“The bad actor would redirect emails to the bad actor’s email account, craft emails to the customer that looked like they are coming from the vendor, indicate that the ‘vendor’ had a new bank account, provide ‘updated’ bank account information and the money would be gone, at that point.”

They try to convince a recipient to wire money to the other side of the world or they go “phishing”, stealing a user’s identity and personal information for fraud.

Over Confidence

On Instagram, hushpuppi said he was a real estate developer, but the “houses” he talked about were actually codewords for bank accounts used to receive proceeds of a fraudulent scheme.

In April, hushpuppi renewed his lease for another year at the exclusive Palazzo Versace apartments in Dubai under his real name and phone number.

The FBI obtained records from his Google, Apple iCloud, Instagram and Snapchat accounts which allegedly contained banking information, passports, communication with conspirators and records of wire transfers.

I expect their many victims would be pleased for the criminals to rot in jail for a very long time.

Do Share this post on social media – click on the post title then scroll down to the social media share buttons.

Fightback Ninja Signature

FBI Take Down 74 Business Email Scammers

The FBI call this scam “Business Email Compromise” (BEC).

It’s when a scammer gets the email address of a senior member of a business and impersonates them in emails asking for money to be transferred to an outside account and it is a very common and sadly quite lucrative scam.

It is a rapidly rising scam and estimated to cost business some hundreds of millions of dollars last year.

The FBI report that the elderly, art galleries and collectors, and real estate purchasers have also found themselves targets over the last few years.

The FBI worked with law enforcement agencies from four continents to takedown a ring of cybercriminals responsible for a series of business e-mail compromise schemes. According to the Department of Justice, the scams led to $14 million in phony wire transfers.

The exercise was called Operation Wire Wire and resulted in the seizure of $2.4M, 42 arrests across the United States, 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland.

The FBI thanked the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Toronto Police Service, the Mauritian Attorney-General and the Commissioner of Police, Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigation, Indonesian National Police Cyber Crimes Unit, and the Royal Malaysia Police, for assisting them in the operation.

23 of the U.S. arrests were made in the state of Florida where individuals reportedly laundered roughly $10M from BEC scams. Another scam in Connecticut resulted in the loss of $2.6 million.

For one attack the FBI enlisted the help of the IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit. Those arrested – a pair of Nigerian nationals living in Texas – allegedly sent a real estate closing attorney an email asking for $246,000 be wired to their account. The victim lost $130,000 after the bank was notified of the fraud and froze $116,000.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

Fightback Ninja Signature

FBI Charge 6 Over Nigerian 419 Scam

Six people charged in Houston in $7 million international investment scam.

The charges against the six individuals were for their participation in an elaborate international advance fee and money laundering scheme. The scheme involved the impersonation of Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) and JPMorgan Chase (Chase) executives, the fabrication of U.S. government documents, the creation of fraudulent investment agreements in the name of BB&T and Chase and the purchase of luxury vehicles to launder the proceeds of the scheme.

The Scam

The scammers impersonated U.S. bank officials and financial consultants over the Internet and by phone and conned the victims into thinking they would receive millions of dollars of investment funding as part of joint ventures with U.S. banks, usually BB&T or Chase.

The scamers used fake Internet domains to make it appear that senders of emails were actually affiliated with BB&T or Chase.

To convince victims the opportunities were authentic, the perpetrators recruited U.S. citizens to pose as bank “representatives” at in-person meetings with victims around the world and outside of the USA  they used sham visits to the local U.S. embassy or consulate and fabricated U.S. government documents to make the victims believe the U.S. government was sponsoring the investment agreements.

The victims were then induced to pay tens of thousands, and often hundreds of thousands, of dollars to U.S.-based bank accounts on the belief that such payments were necessary to complete their investment agreements.

Money movers in the U.S. liquidated the proceeds through outgoing wire transfers to exporters, cash withdrawals and purchases of vehicles, including luxury brands such as Land Rover and Mercedes Benz, which were then shipped to Nigeria.

Recovery of Funds

The scheme resulted in losses of more than $7 million from victims in more than 20 countries.

To date, a house in Richmond, a Range Rover car and approximately $200,000 in cash have been seized.

Well done the FBI.

Do enter your email address and click on the subscribe button on top right to keep up to date with new posts.

Fightback Ninja Signature

FBI Take-Down of Fake Security Software Sellers

FBI_seal

In 2011, an FBI and international cybercrime initiative set out to seek and disrupt hacker organizations.

Operation Trident Tribunal was born, which included the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice and  authorities from many other countries including Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Latvia, the Ukraine, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Operation Trident Tribunal targeted specific sophisticated business enterprise believed to have the ability to steal millions and found to be associated with criminal gangs responsible for selling $72 million in fake Antivirus programs to over 960,000 computer users.

The money was made by selling software that claimed to find security risks on PCs and then asked for cash to fix the non-existent problems.

Operation Trident Tribunal, seized more than 40 computers used to host Web pages and conduct fake scans designed to scare people into believing they needed to purchase bogus security software to clean their systems. Raids conducted in Latvia enabled police to seize five bank accounts that were apparently used to funnel money to one gang of scammers; other accounts were seized in Cyprus. Latvian authorities also arrested two people accused of running one of the gangs.

The FBI says users were victimized by the scheme, paying prices of up to $129 for fake software to resolve the problems.

Good riddance to a lot of thieves and their scam.