A large corporate e-mail compromise (BEC) system that has cost victims millions of dollars has been disrupted in an international operation coordinated by the FBI.
For a period of three months, beginning in September 2021,Operation Eagle Sweep ‘ resulted in the arrests of 65 people. The arrests were made in the United States and 12 in Nigeria, eight in South Africa, two in Canada and one in Cambodia.
The operation focused on fraudsters believed to be behind BEC attacks targeting more than 500 victims in the United States, causing at least $ 51 million in losses.
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BEC attacks involve cybercriminals using social engineering to trick a company employee into transferring a large sum of money to an account controlled by fraudsters.
Common techniques used in BEC attacks include sending emails designed to look like urgent requests for payments from your boss or a colleague.
Cybercriminals have also been known to use phishing emails to hack into email accounts and monitor communications about real business agreements and contracts, wait until the deal is nearing completion before sending an email from the vulnerable user , which requests the actual payment, but sends the money to a bank account owned by the attackers.
While many of these campaigns target companies to make do with hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars at once, the FBI says that the same criminal groups that carry out BEC attacks also target individuals, including homebuyers and the elderly. Romance scams also follow a similar model.
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), victims of BEC attacks reported total losses of nearly $ 2.4 billion in 2021.
“The FBI works tirelessly with our domestic and international partners to disrupt and dismantle criminal companies, to stop the vulnerability of American citizens and businesses, and to impose real consequences on cybercriminals with the help of our unique authorities and lasting partnerships,” said Deputy Director Bryan Vorndran. from the FBI’s cyber division.
“Our message to criminals involved in these BEC plans will remain clear: We will persecute you wherever you are. The public we serve deserves nothing less,” he added.
Law enforcement agencies around the world assisted in conducting investigations and arrests. Those working with the FBI and US Postal Inspection Service include the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the South African Police Service, the Toronto Police Service, the Cambodian National Police and law enforcement agencies in Australia and Japan. Microsoft Corporation’s digital crime unit also provided assistance.