Global Police Arrest 65 in Multimillion-Dollar BEC Bust

Global law enforcers are celebrating after disrupting a significant business email compromise (BEC) gang thought to have targeted hundreds of victim organizations.

Starting in September 2021, the US Department of Justice and international law enforcement partners carried out Operation Eagle Sweep over a three-month period, arresting 65 suspects.

This included 12 in Nigeria – a traditional hub for BEC actors – eight in South Africa, two in Canada and one in Cambodia. At the same time, police in Australia, Japan and Nigeria reportedly carried out local operations targeting BEC actors.

Funded and coordinated by the FBI, Operation Eagle Sweep targeted BEC scammers thought responsible for targeting over 500 US victims and causing losses in excess of $51m.

Among those arrested were Oluwasegun Baiyewu, 36, of Houston, Texas, and Leo Omorogieva Eghaghe, 39, of Lagos, Nigeria, who are thought to have been involved in an attack on a Puerto Rico-based renewable energy supplier and a $4.5m BEC money laundering conspiracy.

Also accused of involvement in that conspiracy are Ashley Crespo, 27; David Alvarado, 21; Wendy Elizabeth Ramos Lopez, 29; Dayana Zaila Ramos, 32; Alvaro Umanzor, 23; Luis Lopez, 39; Jerome Crawford, 25; and Jamal Moore, 25, all of Houston, Texas. They have been indicted on charges of laundering almost $900,000 of proceeds from a BEC scam.

Bright Osaghni, 41, and Osatohanmwen Oriakhi, 41, both of Toronto, Canada, were arrested by local police in connection with a BEC and check fraud scam that sought to defraud over $16m from hundreds of victims in the US and Canada.

BEC schemes reported to the FBI last year cost victims nearly $2.4bn, up from $1.9bn a year previous and accounting for around a third of total cybercrime losses.

“Operation Eagle Sweep’s success is directly attributed to our global reach and worldwide partnerships,” claimed assistant director Bryan Vorndran of the FBI’s Cyber Division. “Our message to criminals involved in these BEC schemes will remain clear: We will pursue you no matter where you may be located. The public we serve deserves nothing less.”

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