A Nigerian living in the United States on a student visa faces federal wire fraud charges in connection with a sophisticated email phishing scam targeting businesses, according to dallasnews.com.
Amechi Colvis Amuegbunam, 28, was arrested in Baltimore in August and charged with scamming 17 North Texas companies out of more than $600,000 using the technique. He remains in federal custody in Dallas. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
He is accused of sending emails that looked like forwarded messages from top company executives to employees who had the authority to wire money. Amuegbunam tricked the employees into wiring him money by transposing a couple of letters in the actual company email, authorities said.
The FBI issued an alert last year about the new cyberattack it called the ‘Business Email Compromise.’ The FBI said it is a “growing fraud that is more sophisticated than any similar scam the FBI has seen before.” Federal officials say more than 7,000 US businesses have been scammed out of a total of about $740 million.
The Dallas investigation began in 2013 when two North Texas companies reported falling victim to the scheme, each losing about $100,000, according to an FBI complaint.
In the case of Luminant Corporation, an electric utility company in Dallas, an employee with the authority to wire money received an email from someone who appeared to be a company executive, the complaint said. But the email domain name had two letters transposed. For example, someone created the email with a domain name of lumniant.com.
The duped employee wired $98,550 to a bank account outside Texas. The FBI subpoenaed information about the email account and learned it was created by someone named Colvis Amue, the complaint said.
Agents determined that person was Amuegbunam and that he scammed another company out of $146,550, according to the complaint. A third company realised the phishing email was fake and did not send the $381,903 requested.