The Justice Department today announced indictments for 80 individuals on charges they ran a massive business email and money laundering scam that operated in part out of Southern California.
DoJ's 145-page indictment was unsealed Thursday, and charges 80 named individuals with conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud, plus aggravated identity theft and money laundering.
More than a dozen individuals were arrested during raids on Thursday, most of which took place in the greater Los Angeles area.
News of the early-morning Southern California raids on Thursday were first reported by LA's ABC7 News.
But it's not immediately known if the Nigerian nationals will be extradited to the U.S., however a treaty exists between the two nations making extraditions possible.
U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna said the case was part of an ongoing effort to protect citizens and businesses from email scams.
"Today, we have taken a major step to disrupt criminal networks that use [business email scam] schemes, romance scams and other frauds to fleece victims," he said. "This indictment sends a message that we will identify perpetrators — no matter where they reside — and we will cut off the flow of ill-gotten gains."
These business email compromise scams rely partly on deception and in some cases hacking. Scammers send specially crafted spearphishing emails to their targets in order to trick them into turning over sensitive information about the company, such as sending employee W-2 tax documents so scammers can generate fraudulent refunds, or tricking an employee into making wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the scammers. More often than not, the scammers use spoofing techniques to impersonate a senior executive over email to trick the unsuspecting victim, or hack into the email account of the person they are impersonating.
Justice Department indicts 80 individuals in a massive business email scam bust [via techmeme, image: shutterstock]