Nigerian National Deported From The UK For His Involvement In BEC Scam
On 20th May 2022, a Nigerian man was extradited from the United Kingdom for participating in financial fraud. Authorities claim Chinbundu Joseph Anuebunwa, aged 39, was involved in Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams.
Damian Williams, an attorney for the Southern District of New York, United States of America, and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), investigated the case regarding Anuebunwa.
They announced that Anuebunwa would arrive in the US in the afternoon of 20th May 2022, where the investigation would continue, and punishment for his charges would be decided. Before we tell you all the case details, let’s first find out more about BEC scams.
What Are BEC Scams?
Business Email Compromise (BEC), also known as Email Account Compromise (EAC), is a highly damaging method used to commit financial fraud, according to the FBI.
This scam misuses emails, an important communication source in the corporate world. Under the BEC scam, legitimate or verified institutions or companies are impersonated in email messages while conducting business. Thus, people fall very easily for this scam, thinking they are in communication with a trustworthy person or company. In reality, they give their information or send money to scammers.
Why Was Chinbundu Joseph Anuebunwa Charged?
Damian Williams stated, “As alleged in the indictment, Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa tried to steal money from thousands of businesses worldwide by impersonating corporate executives and sending phony emails to company employees.”
This statement implies that Anuebunwa was involved in BEC scams and used them to steal thousands from Americans while sitting in the UK. In his statement regarding the case, Damian Williams also emphasized that this case should be an example for other scammers seeking to commit a similar fraud because they will be found and punished for their crimes.
This is proven by the fact that Abuebunwa was eventually caught for his involvement and sent to the US for further investigation. However, the US is one of the few countries whose citizens became victims of the multi-million dollar business email compromise scam orchestrated by Anuebunwa between 2014 and 2016.
Did Chinbundu Joseph Anuebunwa Have Accomplices?
Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa had two accomplices who helped him successfully carry out the BEC scam. Their names are David Chukwuneke Adindu and Onyekachi Emmanuel Opara. They both are citizens of Nigeria. Like Anuebunwas, both accomplices were also caught by authorities for their involvement in the fraud and faced charges.
How Was The Scam Carried Out?
Based on the investigation by the FBI, Anuebunwa, Adindu, and Opara sent out fake emails to employees of multiple companies in the US and other countries between 2014 and 2016.
The email requested money transfer from the company accounts into specific bank accounts. Higher supervisors of the companies were mostly impersonated in the emails making the request seem legitimate. Similarly, third-party companies conducting business with the target company were also impersonated to make it seem like payments were due. However, these emails were far from legitimate.
Apart from impersonating a senior employee or another company, the domain name for email accounts used to send these fake emails was similar to the real domain name used by target companies. Even the metadata in the emails would often be modified to make them similar to emails from authentic domain names.
As a result, employees of companies fell for this scam and ended up transferring money to bank accounts accessible by Anuebunwa, Adindu, and Opara. The trio would quickly withdraw all the received money or move it into another bank account to get rid of any possible money trails to recover the money.
The FBI investigation also discovered the main information being exchanged between the three Nigerian men. Here is a list of the information they used to their advantage for scamming multiple companies:
- Names and email addresses of target companies’ employees
- Email accounts used to send emails to victims
- Scripts for requesting money transfers from victims
- Bank account details to receive money from victims
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What Punishment Did Anuebunwa And His Accomplices Receive?
Soon after arriving in the US on 20th May, Anuebunwa was presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker. Later, U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty was assigned to the case.
He is innocent until proven guilty; hence, the court will decide what punishment he receives. The maximum sentence for conspiracy to commit wire fraud is 20 years. Similarly, the penalty for actually committing wire fraud is 20 years in prison. Chinbundu Joseph Anuebunwa was charged with one case of both crimes; hence, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Before Anuebunwa received his punishment, his accomplices had already had court trials. David Chukwuneke Adindu was sentenced to 41 months in jail. Meanwhile, Onyekachi Emmanuel Opara was sentenced to 60 months in prison.
Which Authorities Were Involved In The Success Of The Investigation?
The central authority leading the case was the FBI. However, the Attorney for the Southern District of New York, USA, Damian Williams, also thanked other authorities apart from the FBI.
These authorities include the Crown Prosecution Service of the United Kingdom and the Yahoo E-Crime Investigations Team. All three made the process of Anuebunwa’s extradition from the UK to the US much faster and smoother. The FBI also collaborated with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria to successfully arrest and punish people involved in crimes similar to business email compromise (BEC).
Last but not least, the Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit of the Justice’s Office of International Affairs in the US also played a vital role in the case. Visit our home page and news page for more info and guidelines.
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