Kenyans are among close to 300 suspects who were arrested by United States authorities in connection with a global online scam.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said 281 cybercriminals were arrested in 12 countries during a four-month-long operation that ended this month, according to Voice of America.
The suspects include 167 from Nigeria, 74 in the United States, 18 from Turkey and 15 from Ghana. Other arrests were made in Kenya, France, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.
“Foreign citizens perpetrate many BEC [Business Email Compromise] scams. Those individuals are often members of transnational criminal organizations, which originated in Nigeria but have spread throughout the world,” US DOJ said in a statement.
The crackdown was carried out by the DOJ and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The DOJ said $3.7 million was recovered during the operation.
“We’re sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these BEC schemes,” Christopher Wray, the FBI director warned.
The DOJ said the suspects used romance scams, employment opportunities scams, fraudulent online vehicle sales scams, rental scams, and lottery scams to con their victims.
The DOJ statement did not mention the number of Kenyan suspects arrested during the crackdown dubbed Operation Rewired.
“The same criminal organizations that perpetrate BEC 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.”
“The devastating effects these cases have on victims and victim companies affect not only the individual business but also the global economy,” the DOJ stated.