9 Houstonians have been charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after, allegedly, laundering millions of funds acquired through hacking companies’ email accounts and sending false requests for wire transfers.
The FBI’s “Operation Eagle Sweep” which was a three-month-long effort targeting “Business email compromise (BEC) scammers, also bagged Houstonian, 36-years old Oluwasegun Baiyewu. He was charged in a separate scheme. Baiyewu is accused of participating in an international money laundering conspiracy that consisted of a network of “money mules” who transferred at least $4.5 million obtained through BEC schemes.
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, have been indicted.
“Operation Eagle Sweep’s success is directly attributed to our global reach and worldwide partnerships,” FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran stated in a news release. “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.”
According to the FBI, “Business email compromise (BEC)—also known as email account compromise (EAC)—is one of the most financially damaging online crimes. It exploits the fact that so many of us rely on email to conduct business—both personal and professional.
In a BEC scam, criminals send an email message that appears to come from a known source making a legitimate request, like in these examples:
A vendor your company regularly deals with sends an invoice with an updated mailing address.
- A company CEO asks her assistant to purchase dozens of gift cards to send out as employee rewards. She asks for the serial numbers so she can email them out right away.
- A homebuyer receives a message from his title company with instructions on how to wire his down payment.
- Versions of these scenarios happened to real victims. All the messages were fake. And in each case, thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of dollars were sent to criminals instead.”