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UK govt extradites Nigerian to US over alleged email compromise scams

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A 39-year-old Nigerian, Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa, has been extradited from the United Kingdom (UK) to the United States (US) for allegedly participating in business email compromise (BEC) scam that targeted thousands of victims around the world. 

The suspect was presented last Friday before US Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams announced.

“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,” Williams said.

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 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 the firms.

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.

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After victims complied with the fraudulent wiring instructions, the transferred funds were quickly withdrawn or moved into different bank accounts.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.

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.

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