Federal Bureau of Investigation have arrested 29 people in Nigeria as part of a global crackdown on email fraud across the world.
US authorities said on Monday that 74 people had been arrested in all as it continues crackdown on email fraud scams, in which criminals have attempted to steal billions of dollars from businesses and individuals.
Of those arrested, 42 were in the United States, 29 in Nigeria, and the others in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland, the FBI said.
The cases involve a growing type of fraud known as “business email compromise” that targets employees with access to corporate finances.
The fraudsters send emails that appear to be from trusted corporate executives or vendors, which instruct targeted employees to wire funds to accounts controlled by criminals.
The same groups also ran similar scams targeting individuals, including real-estate buyers and the elderly, the bureau said.
Nearly $2.4 million was seized in the six-month operation dubbed “Operation Wire Wire” and about $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers was recovered, according to the FBI.
On Monday, Fred Haines, 77, was informed he will get back the six figure sum that he wired between 2005 and 2008 to scammers who had promised him $64 million in inheritance from a Nigerian prince, if only he could pay the fake fees to move the money.
Last year, Western Union admitted in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission to knowingly looking the other way regarding employees who had been helping scammers to steal the money of its customers, including Haines.
A $586 million fund was created to pay back victims, throughout the US and Canada.
When Haines first heard about the settlement fund, he was optimistic he’d get his refund.
‘I thought, man, $580 million, yeah I should be able to get a little bit of that,’ he told the Kansas City Star.
The scammers first made contact with Haines through his Yahoo! email account in 2005.