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  • World - North America
  • Updated: June 06, 2024

US government seeks to recover $5.3m from BEC fraud

US government seeks to recover $5.3m from BEC fraud

The U.S. government has initiated a civil forfeiture action to reclaim $5.3 million linked to a business email compromise, BEC, scheme that defrauded a workers union in Massachusetts.

In January 2023, the union was tricked into transferring $6.4 million to a fraudulent account via a spoofed email. The stolen funds were subsequently funnelled through multiple international banks and cryptocurrency exchanges.

U.S. authorities have successfully seized money from seven domestic accounts associated with the scheme.

The information was disclosed in a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts, on Thursday.

"BEC fraud schemes present a serious threat to businesses and individuals nationwide, causing significant financial and emotional harm to victims by exploiting trusted communication channels they rely upon every day.

"Today’s civil forfeiture action demonstrates that when victims report such misconduct to the authorities, there may be steps we can take to recover stolen funds. We hope today’s action helps restore some level of stability and justice for those impacted by fraud," stated Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy.

The statement, issued in Boston, also advised the public to report cybercrime, including cryptocurrency scams, romance scams, investment scams, and business email compromise fraud scams, to [email protected].

The press release detailed that the fraudulently obtained funds were transferred through several intermediary bank accounts, with some funds moved or attempted to be moved to a cryptocurrency exchange or various bank accounts in Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and Nigeria.

“The United States filed a civil forfeiture action today to recover approximately $5,315,746 alleged to be proceeds of a business email compromise (BEC) scheme targeting a Massachusetts workers union, as well as property involved in money laundering.

“The complaint alleges that in January 2023, a workers union located in Dorchester received an email requesting a change of payment information from someone it believed worked at an investment consulting firm.

“The complaint also alleges that the email came from what initially appeared to be the consulting firm’s true email address but was in fact a spoofed email address that had been changed by one letter.

"The spoofed email instructed the workers’ union to make a $6,400,000 transfer to a different bank account than had been previously arranged, which the workers union did, in fact, do."

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