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FBI extradites Nigerian from South Africa for cybercrimes

Dean Workman - IT News Africa - 18-01-29
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On Friday 26 January 2018, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced in a statement the extradition of Onyekachi Emmanuel Opara, a Nigerian national, from South Africa, for participating in fraudulent business email operation that attempted to scam thousands of victims around the world out of millions of dollars, including victims from the United States.

On the 27th of January 2017, Opara arrived in the Southern District of New York and was presented to the Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck.

Co-defendant David Chukwuneke Adindu was previously sentenced to 41 months in prison for participating in the business email scams.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in the statement said, “As alleged, Onyekachi Opara attempted to dupe thousands of victims into transferring money to him and his co-defendant in a phony email scheme. Today’s extradition shows that defendants who allegedly target American victims from a distance are nonetheless subject to the reach of American justice.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. added, “Technology changes daily, so do the tactics used by scammers to prey on unsuspecting victims. This case and others we are aggressively investigating every day prove, regardless of these criminals efforts to disguise their illegal activity, we won’t stop pursuing them. FBI New York Cyber Crime agents and our law enforcement partners will search out suspects in these cases, even reaching internationally, to stop the next victims from losing their money.”

According to the statement by the United States Department of Justice, between 2014 and 2016, Opara and Adindu participated in Business Email Compromise scams (“BEC scams”) targeting thousands of victims around the world, including in the United States. As part of the BEC scams, emails were sent to employees of various companies directing that funds be transferred to specified bank accounts. The emails purported to be from supervisors at those companies or third party vendors that did business with those companies. The emails, however, were not legitimate. Rather, they were either from email accounts with a domain name that was very similar to a legitimate domain name, or the metadata in the emails had been modified so that the emails appeared as if they were from legitimate email addresses. After victims complied with the fraudulent wiring instructions, the transferred funds were quickly withdrawn or moved into different bank accounts. In total, the BEC scams attempted to defraud millions of dollars from victims.

The statement highlighted the charge leveled at Opara, 29, of Lagos, Nigeria, as an Indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Tags: Nigerian, cybercrime, Onyekachi Emmanuel Opara, David Chukwuneke Adindu, Business Email Compromise

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