The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation announced more than 280 arrests in a law enforcement sweep aimed at schemes that trick individuals and businesses into wiring money to criminals.
The arrests were part of Operation reWired, which was a four-month, multi-agency law enforcement effort to disrupt and dismantle international business email compromise scams. These scams often target employees with access to company finances and trick them into making wire transfers to bank accounts thought to belong to trusted partners.
Arrests were made in the United States, Nigeria, Turkey, Ghana, France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom. The sweep resulted in the seizure of nearly $3.7 million and the disruption and recovery of approximately $118 million in fraudulent wire transfers. Operation reWired is a coordinated law enforcement effort by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Department of State.
In announcing the actions, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “The FBI is working every day to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that target our businesses and our citizens. Through Operation reWired, we’re sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these BEC schemes: We’ll keep coming after you, no matter where you are.”
One of the things that's so striking about this law enforcement effort was how effectively U.S. law enforcement appeared to work with law enforcement around the world. In bringing these actions, the U.S. recognized that significant assistance was provided by numerous foreign government agencies, including the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ghana Police Service and Economic and Organized Crime Office, Turkish National Police Cyber Department, Direction Centrale de la Police aux Frontieres of France, Squadra Mobile Di Caserta and Italian National Police, National Police Agency of Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, Royal Malaysian Police, Directorate of Criminal Investigations of Kenya and the National Crime Agency, North Wales Police, Metropolitan Police Service, and Hertfordshire Constabulary of the UK.
It will be interesting to see whether this is a sign of things to come. Is this a signal that other federal agencies, such as Federal Trade Commission, will look more aggressively at global advertising issues and work more often with foreign law enforcement partners to bring coordinated actions?
"Through Operation reWired, we’re sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these BEC schemes: We’ll keep coming after you, no matter where you are" -- FBI Director Christopher Wray