Nigerian Man Sentenced for Role in “Business Email Compromise” Scheme That Caused $3.7 Million Loss to U.S. Companies
DALLAS — A Nigerian citizen in the U.S. on a student visa was sentenced today before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade to 46 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $615,555.12 in restitution for his role in what has become known as a “Business Email Compromise” (BEC) scheme, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Amechi Colvis Amuegbunam, 30, of Lagos, Nigeria, pleaded guilty in March 2017 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He has been in custody since the time of his arrest in August 2015.
According to plea documents in the case, from November 2013 through August 2015, Amuegbunam and other individuals, sent fraudulent emails to companies in the Northern District of Texas and elsewhere, containing misrepresentations that caused the companies to wire transfer funds as instructed on a pdf document that was attached to the email.
The investigation of this particular scheme began when two companies in the Dallas/Fort Worth area reported to the FBI Dallas office that they had received targeted spear phishing emails. These emails appeared to be a forwarded message, allegedly from a top executive at the company, sent to an employee in the company’s accounting department who had authority to make financial transfers for the company. Although the emails appeared to be coming from a company executive, the messages were actually coming from a false email account fraudulently created to look like a legitimate company email account. A fraudulent domain name was used that contained one small difference from the true company’s email address – such as transposed letters. After complying with the spear-phishing email instructions to transfer funds, the companies became victims of the BEC scheme. The investigation traced the creation of some of the pdfs to Amuegbunam.
According to the factual resume, the scheme involved at least ten victims totaling a loss of approximately $3,700,000.
The FBI investigated and Assistant U.S. Attorney C.S. Heath prosecuted. In May 2017, the FBI issued a Public Service Announcement about the BEC scheme. https://www.ic3.gov/media/2017/170504.aspx