Fraud: UK Govt extradites Nigerian man to U.S for allegedly participating in business email compromise scams
A 39-year-old Nigerian man, Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa, has been extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States for allegedly participating in business email compromise scam that targeted thousands of victims around the world.
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), made the announcement on Friday, May 20.
Anuebunwa was extradited on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in connection with his alleged participation in a multimillion-dollar business email compromise campaign that targeted thousands of victims around the world, including in the United States.
The suspect was presented on Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty.
In connection with the same conspiracy as Anuebunwa, co-defendant David Chukwuneke Adindu was previously sentenced to 41 months in prison, and co-defendant Onyekachi Emmanuel Okpara, was previously extradited from South Africa and sentenced to 60 months in prison.
“As alleged in the indictment, Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa tried to steal money from thousands of businesses around the world by impersonating corporate executives and sending phony emails to company employees,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.
“Today’s extradition should serve as a warning to those who think they can defraud victims in the United States from halfway around the world: the United States and its international partners will find you and hold you accountable no matter how long it takes.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed on Friday in Manhattan federal court, between 2014 and 2016, Anuebunwa, Opara and Adindu, participated in business email compromise scams (“BEC scams”) targeting thousands of victims around the world, including in the United States.
As part of the BEC scams, emails were sent to employees of various companies directing that funds be transferred to specified bank accounts.
The emails purported to be from supervisors at those companies or third-party vendors that did business with those companies.
The emails, however, were not legitimate. Rather, they were either from email accounts with a domain name that was very similar to a legitimate domain name, or the metadata in the emails had been modified so that the emails appeared as if they were from legitimate email addresses.
After victims complied with the fraudulent wiring instructions, the transferred funds were quickly withdrawn or moved into different bank accounts. In total, the BEC scams attempted to defraud millions of dollars from victims.
Anuebunwa and others carried out BEC scams by exchanging information regarding: (1) bank accounts used for receiving funds from victims; (2) email accounts used for communicating with victims; (3) scripts for requesting wire transfers from victims; and (4) lists of names and email addresses for contacting and impersonating potential victims.
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Anuebunwa is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and one count of wire fraud, which also carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the FBI and thanked the Yahoo E-Crime Investigations Team for their assistance.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division provided significant assistance in securing the defendant’s extradition from the United Kingdom. Mr. Williams also thanked the United Kingdom’s Crown Prosecution Service for their assistance in today’s extradition.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew K. Chan and Daniel Loss are in charge of the prosecution.
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