Transnational Organized Crime: Eight arrested by FBI, including 3 Ghanaians for Cyber crime schemes amounting to $15 million

Tracking Transnational Organized Crime in Africa

Eight individuals, including three Ghanaians have been arrested by the FBI for their roles in Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes that were designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals.

The three Ghanaians; Rashid Abdulai, Babatunde Martins and Maxwell Atugba Abayeta were part of an Africa-based cybercrime network indicted for various romance scams, fraudulent-check scams, gold-buying scams and credit card scams in the United States.

The indictment alleges that the Africa-based co-conspirators committed, or caused to be committed, a series of intrusions into the servers and email systems of a Memphis-based real estate company in June and July 2016. Using sophisticated anonymization techniques, including the use of spoofed email addresses and Virtual Private Networks, the co-conspirators identified large financial transactions, initiated fraudulent email correspondence with relevant business parties, and then redirected closing funds through a network of U.S.-based money mules to final destinations in Africa.

The others including; Javier Luis Ramos Alonso, 28, a Mexican; James Dean, 65, of Plainfield, Indiana; Dana Brady, 61, of Auburn, Washington; Olufolajimi Abegunde, 31, a Nigerian citizen residing in Atlanta, Georgia, 26, and Benard Emurhowhoariogho Okorhi, 39, a Nigerian citizen who resides in Ghana, have all been arrested overseas and are pending extradition to the United States to face charges filed in the Western District of Tennessee.

“The defendants allegedly unleashed a barrage of international fraud schemes that targeted U.S. businesses and individuals, robbing them to the tune of approximately $15 million,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.

 “The Department of Justice will continue to work with our international partners to aggressively disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that victimize our citizens and businesses,” he added.

It is alleged that proceeds of these criminal activities, both money and goods, were shipped and/or transferred from the United States to locations in Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa through a complex network of both complicit and unwitting individuals that had been recruited through the various Internet scams.

Through all their various schemes, these individuals are believed to have caused millions in loss to victims across the globe.

Read Also: Missing Gold: How Ghana lost over $6 billion in gold export revenue to major trading partners

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Some of the individuals indicted are expected to be in court on October 9, 2018.

Report by Gideon Sarpong | iWatch Africa

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Gideon Sarpong

2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation Fellow: Gideon Sarpong (G. K. Sarpong) is a media practitioner with over six years of experience in content development and management, data and investigative journalism, policy analysis, production and e-commerce strategizing. Gideon is currently Director of Policy and News Content at iWatch Africa. He is also the Brands and Communication Manager for Football 360, Kwese SportsXtra, on KFS and Celebrity Fanzone, The Tonight Show, and After Hours. Gideon is an e-commerce consultant for Department of Geography & Regional Planning and Department of Religion & Human Values at the University of Cape Coast. He is a columnist for several local and international news portals. Gideon holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Policy Journalism and is committed to promoting transparency and accountability using investigative & data journalism. Gideon is an author with over eight publications; a fellow of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), Thomson Reuters Foundation (Wealth of Nations Program) and Bloomberg Data for Health Program.

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