Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu has disclosed the collaborative operations between the Commission and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tagged “Operation Rewired” has led to the recovery of the sums of $169,850, as well as the sum of N92 million from suspected perpetrators of computer-related frauds.
A statement by the Head, Media and Publicity of EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren on Tuesday said Magu made the disclosure while speaking at a joint FBI/EFCC media briefing in Lagos.
“Being an international model operation targeted at the varied forms of computer-related frauds, the EFCC/FBI collaborative operations spanning three weeks was designed to intercept and interrupt the global network of the internet fraudsters,” he said.
Magu, represented by the EFCC Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar Abba, said, the operations had resulted in the arrest of 167 Nigerians for alleged computer-related frauds and recovery of four exotic cars, plots of land in choice areas in Lagos and property in Abuja.
“However, before now, as you are all aware, we had relentlessly launched intensive investigative actions against the infamous Yahoo yahoo boys culminating into various strategic raids, onslaught on criminals’ hideouts, prosecutions and convictions,” he said.
The EFCC Chair further called on the media to continue to lend its voice to the fight against corruption and economic and financial crimes.
He added, “the EFCC will continue to partner with the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies, especially in the area of exchange of information and actionable intelligence towards bringing to the barest minimum the menace of cybercrimes and other computer-based frauds in the country.”
Also speaking Uche Ahamdi, Legal Attaché, FBI office in Nigeria, said the Agency received 20,373 Business Email Compromise and Email Account Compromise (BEC/EAC) complaints with losses of more than $1.2 billion.
According to him, in a bid to dismantle international fraudulent BEC transactions, pursue bad actors and organized criminal enterprises, including money mules, that engage in BEC and fraud schemes that target and harm American businesses, the FBI and law enforcement partners in the U.S. and abroad implemented a strategy to target and disrupt these scammers and illicit actors
“He further stated that money mules were usually employed by fraudsters to launder their ill-gotten gains by draining the funds into other accounts that were difficult to trace,” it said.
Legal Attaché said the sweep ran from May to September 2019, with the uptake of focused law enforcement activity during a four week period, primarily in the U.S., Nigeria, Ghana, Turkey, France, Italy, UK, Japan, Kenya and Malaysia.
“He also disclosed that “More than 37 FBI field offices and U.S. Attorney’s Offices participated in law enforcement activity, including executing arrests, search warrants, interviews, and serving money mule warning letters.
“The goal of this operation is to send a message to all who participate in the BEC scheme that they will be caught and prosecuted, regardless of where they are located,” the paper said.
Ahamdi further stated that the collaborative operation leveraged resources from across the FBI, which enabled the agencies to bring the sum total of the FBI’s cyber, organized crime, and money laundering expertise to bear on computer-based frauds.
He, therefore, urged national and international law enforcement partners to develop a strategy that “focuses on dismantling the most significant cyber-criminal enterprises.”