U.S. DOJ Arrests Six with Ties to Ghana-Based, Money-Stealing Scams

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 | , ,

U.S. law enforcement arrested six “ringleaders” of a Ghana-based cybercriminal enterprise, who had allegedly launched a slew of money-stealing scams dating back to 2013 that included romance scams, business email compromise attacks and fraud.

Authorities estimate the alleged group of criminals made over $55 million during its crime spree robbing mostly elderly online daters, small businesses and more. Officials dug deep into the scam’s  tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs), alleging that the attackers “engaged in email spoofing, duping elderly online daters into wiring them money, and applying for government-funded Coronavirus relief funds earmarked for the benefit of small businesses affected by the pandemic.”

While the six arrested were allegedly involved with the criminal enterprise based in Ghana, they were located across the U.S. and targeted individuals and businesses in the U.S. The six allegedly carried out various types of fraud over the past seven years. This includes business email compromise (BEC), where they allegedly duped businesses into wiring funds into attacker-owned accounts. This was done by impersonating employees of a victim’s company, or third-party companies that partnered or did business with the victim’s company. The six also allegedly carried out romance scams targeting older men and women who lived alone.

They allegedly sent messages via email, text messaging, or online dating websites and tricked vulnerable victims into believing they were in a romantic relationship with a fake identity. Then, after gaining a victim’s trust, they would allegedly convince them to wire money to attacker-controlled bank accounts.

Finally the six allegedly launched fraud schemes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. They did so by submitting fraudulent loan applications through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, which is designed to provide relief to small businesses during the pandemic — and collecting the money.

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