Atlanta and Sandy Springs residents are among the 281 suspects worldwide that federal authorities have arrested in global business email compromise schemes.

In an Sept. 10 news release, the authorities announced their efforts to stop plots that are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals, including many senior citizens.

Operation reWired, a coordinated law enforcement effort by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Department of State, was conducted over a four-month period, resulting in 281 arrests in the United States and overseas, including 167 in Nigeria, 18 in Turkey and 15 in Ghana. Arrests were also made in France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom. The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $3.7 million.

The two local suspects arrested are Nigerian national Emmanuel Igomu, 35, of Atlanta, and Ifeanyi Eke, 32, of Sandy Springs.

In an investigation by the FBI’s Atlanta office, Igomu and another Nigerian national, Jude Balogun, 29, of San Francisco, were arrested for their alleged roles in a Nigeria-based scheme that began with a $3.5 million transfer of funds fraudulently misdirected from a Georgia-based health care provider to accounts across the United States. They were charged with aiding and abetting wire fraud for their part in receiving and transmitting monies derived from the plan.

Eke; Cyril Ashu, 34, of Austell; Joshua Ikejimba, 24, of Houston; and Chinedu Ironuah, 32, of Houston; were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud for their involvement in a Nigeria-based scheme that impacted hundreds of victims in the United States, with losses in excess of $10 million.

Business email compromise, also known as cyber-enabled financial fraud, is a sophisticated scam often targeting employees with access to company finances and businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments. The same criminal organizations that perpetrate it also exploit individual victims, often real estate purchasers, the elderly and others, by convincing them to make wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the criminals.

This is often accomplished by impersonating a key employee or business partner after obtaining access to that person’s email account or sometimes done through romance and lottery scams.

“The FBI is working every day to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that target our businesses and our citizens,” FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said in a news release. “Cooperation is the backbone to effective law enforcement; without it, we aren’t as strong or as agile as we need to be. Through Operation reWired, we’re sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these … schemes: We’ll keep coming after you, no matter where you are. And to the public, we’ll keep doing whatever we can to protect you. Reporting incidents of (these schemes) and other internet-enabled crimes to the IC3 brings us one step closer to the perpetrators.”

For more information on these scams, visit: www.ic3.gov/media/2019/190910.aspx.

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