Nigerian pleads guilty to online business scam

A Nigerian national extradited from the UK to the US has pleaded guilty to attempting to defraud thousands of businesses around the world out of millions using an online scamming technique known as business email compromise (BEC).

Chibundu Anuebunwa, 40, of Lagos, Nigeria, admitted his role in the scam at a federal court in the Southern District of New York and now faces up to 20 years in a US prison.

Between 2014 and 2016, Aneubunwa and two accomplices sent fraudulent emails to targeted companies in which they pretended to be supervisors or third-party contractors. The aim was to persuade genuine employees to transfer funds to bank accounts controlled by Anuebunwa, David Abindu, and Onyekachi Opara.

The two latter men, also from Nigeria, have already been sentenced to 41 and 60 months in prison respectively.

Commenting on the case, US Attorney Damian Williams said: “As he has now admitted, Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa participated in a conspiracy to trick thousands of business employees located all around the world into wiring millions of dollars to overseas bank accounts by sending bogus emails that appeared to be legitimate.”

Williams added: “This case should serve as a reminder to cybercriminals located around the globe that we will track them down and hold them responsible.”

To disguise their criminal activity the three men used domain names that appeared very similar to those of legitimate companies, or modified metadata in the BEC emails to make it look as though they had been sent from a bona fide source.

However, it is not clear how much money they actually got away with: announcing Anuebunwa’s guilty plea, the US Department of Justice said that he and his accomplices attempted to steal millions but did not specify how successful they were.

Anuebunwa was extradited from the UK, where he was residing, in May last year and is due to be sentenced in the US on October 2nd.

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