Attorney General William Barr just dropped the hammer and ordered almost 300 criminals to be arrested.
The Department of Justice announced this week that it arrested 281 email scammers across 10 countries and seized around $3.7 million.
The massive operation was against scammers who have stolen millions of dollars through wire fraud and other forms of monetary theft.
Most of the arrests were in Nigeria, with many also being reported in the U.S., Ghana, and Turkey.
Over 250,000 identities were stolen in order to file fraudulent over 10,000 tax returns and receive more than $91 million in refunds.
Other scams included employment scams in which people are apparently overpaid for work they did and then asked to wire the over-payment back to the company before any funds actually hit their account.
“The Department of Justice has increased efforts in taking aggressive enforcement action against fraudsters who are targeting American citizens and their businesses in business email compromise schemes and other cyber-enabled financial crimes,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in a statement.
“The FBI is working every day to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that target our businesses and our citizens,” said FBI Director Christopher A. Wray in a statement. “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.
The greatest number of arrests took place in Nigeria, where 167 people were apprehended. Another 74 people were arrested in the United States, 18 in Turkey and 15 in Ghana.
According to the Justice Department, investigators began targeting people involved in this scam in May with Operation reWired, and discovered that conspirators stole more than 250,000 identities and filed more than 10,000 fraudulent tax returns in an attempt to receive more than $91 million in refunds.
These so-called Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams are related to and often done along with other types of fraud like romance scams, rental scams, lottery scams, and employment opportunities scams, investigators said.
With employment scammers, victims will often be tricked into submitting their personal identifying information to bogus job listings, get “hired” for work-from-home roles, get overpaid for that work, and then get asked to wire back the overage before the initial payment goes through.
Email scams have become ubiquitous. The FBI reported this week that between June 2016 and July 2019 there were more than 166,000 domestic and international reports of email fraud resulting in more than $26 billion in losses.
Barr and the DOJ have been very busy lately going after criminals.
Last week, a Democratic mayor from Massachusetts was arrested on charges that he conspired to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies seeking to operate marijuana businesses.
Federal authorities say Fall River Democratic Mayor Jasiel Correia accepted cash bribes in exchange for issuing official letters needed to obtain a license to set up a pot business.
The DOJ said at least four business owners paid a total of $600,000 in bribes to the mayor — and he used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle and cover his own mounting legal bills.