80 people have been charged as what the FBI describes as one of the largest online scam case in US history
U.S. authorities on Thursday unsealed a 252-count grand jury indictment charging 80 people in a major conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes and launder the money through a Los Angeles-based money laundering network,.
Most of those charged are Nigerian nationals, participating in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes.
The conspiracy included frauds involving business email, romance scams and schemes targeting elderly people, to defraud victims out of millions of dollars.
US attorney Nicola Hanna explains:
"Those arrested today, including 11 in the Los Angeles area are among 80 defendants charged in a federal grand jury indictment that alleges millions of dollars were taken from victims through a variety of BEC (business email compromise) scams, romance scams and other online fraud."
Fourteen defendants were arrested, mostly in the Los Angeles region. FBI agents could be seen processing suspects in a down town Los Angeles parking lot.
Six other defendants are believed to be fugitives in the U.S. and the others are abroad, mostly in Nigeria. Authorities said they hope to extradite them.
The investigation began in 2016 with one victim and a single bank account, said Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI's LA office.
Victims were targeted in the U.S. and around the world, and some lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The US attorney in California released a statement saying :
“Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims.
The FBI is committed to working with our partner agencies worldwide to continue to identify these cyber criminals and to dismantle their networks.”