A 31-year-old Nigerian man, Obinna Obioha, has pleaded guilty before a U.S. court for wire fraud and being part of a scheme that hacked into people’s computers and emails accounts for the purpose of stealing money from the American companies.
U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Vadim Thomas and Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the FBI made this announcement. Obioha apparently pleaded guilty that while he was in Nigeria, he collaborated with other hackers to hack into computers and email accounts of dozens of people living in the United States and across the globe.
The accused and his collaborators allegedly monitored their victims’ information to identify important commercial transactions. The hacking team then proceeded to create fake email addresses that seem similar but with a slight variation from the targeted victim’s real email address.
The hacking team then used these fake email addresses to send fraudulent invoices to victim’s business associates, instructing them to wire money into bank accounts controlled by Obioha and his team. The hackers took advantage of deals previously negotiated by the victim and duped the victim’s business associates into sending money into the wrong bank accounts.
By Obioha apparent own admission, between January and September 2016, he had received at least 50 wire transfers amounting to $6.5 million. The hacking team targeted places like New York, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, and Florida among others.
Obioha was apprehended on October 6th, 2016, when his flight from Lagos, Nigeria landed at the JFK International Airport and remained in custody since.
U.S. Attorney Hartunian said: “Foreign criminal enterprises prey upon American businesses and are using increasingly sophisticated means to do so, as demonstrated by this scheme. Obioha’s apprehension and conviction is a reminder that foreign nationals targeting American businesses cannot operate with impunity and that the reach of U.S. law enforcement agencies in global.”
Obioha is currently facing 20 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000 with a possibility of being ordered to pay restitution. His sentencing is coming up on July 26, 2017, by the U.S. District Judge David Hurd. The FBI investigated Obioha’s case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Myers is the prosecutor.