An FBI investigation that has lasted almost three years has resulted in the indictment of 80 individuals for various kinds of fraud schemes. Almost all of the alleged crimes involve internet fraud. In announcing the indictments, the FBI’s Los Angeles office called it one of the largest internet fraud schemes that it had ever seen.
According to the indictment, the alleged conspiracy involves mostly Nigerian nationals. Two of the named defendants are already in FBI custody, and 11 suspects have been arrested in Southern California. Six are fugitives already in the United States. A majority of the remaining defendants are believed to be living in Nigeria.
The fraud used in this case is known as Business Email Compromised Fraud. The alleged crimes were committed against legitimate businesses in the United States and all over the world. A member of the conspiracy would learn who handled money for a would-be victim. The person would then send e-mails soliciting money transfers. The e-mails sent to the victims looked like invoices that were regularly used by the company’s vendors.
According to the FBI, approximately $6,000,000 was fraudulently transferred to the members of the conspiracy. Each of the defendants named in the indictment is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to launder money and aggravated identify theft. Two members of the conspiracy supervised distribution of the proceeds of the conspiracy in return for a share in the proceeds.
The defendants in this case are entitled to the constitutional presumption of innocence, unless and until they are convicted by evidence that proves their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, any member of the conspiracy who is apprehended by the FBI and convicted will face significant penalties, including forfeiture, incarceration and heavy fines. The assistance of an experienced criminal attorney can help evaluate the evidence and estimate the chances of arranging a favorable plea agreement.