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EnlargeXaume Olleros  Bloomberg via Getty Images

EnlargeXaume Olleros Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced arresting 74 individuals for their involvement in business email compromise (BEC) schemes that are created to steal money by intercepting and hijacking wire transfers from businesses and individuals.

The arrests were part of Operation Wire Wire, a six-month investigation by the Justice Department, U.S. Postal and Inspection Service, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Treasury.

The arrests took place in the US, Nigeria, Canada, Mauritius, and Poland. Roughly $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers were recovered and almost $2.4 million was seized, according to the Justice Department.

BEC schemes usually involve scammers targeting victims who have access to their employers' accounts, or businesses that perform regular wire transfers.

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Many of these cases involved global criminal organizations which defrauded not only small-to-large sized businesses but also individuals including real estate purchasers and the elderly. "BEC and EAC is a prevalent scam, and the Justice Department, along with our partners, will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute the perpetrators, including money mules, regardless of where they are located", the statement notes.

"And these same criminal organisations that perpetrate BEC schemes also exploit individual victims often real estate purchasers, the elderly, and others by convincing them to make wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the criminals".

Since the Internet Crime Complaint Center began keeping track of BEC and its variant, Email Account Compromise, over $3.7 billion in losses has been reported, officials say. The fraudsters will also target individuals with romance or lottery scams. "Law enforcement agents executed over 51 domestic actions, including search warrants, money mule warning letters and asset seizure warrants totaling almost $1 million", the Justice Department statement notes. If you believe you may have been a target, you can also file a complaint with the IC3.

The FBI said the suspects aimed at intercepting and hijacking cash transfers from businesses and individuals, including many senior citizens.

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