The United States Department of Justice has indicted dozens of individuals, mostly Nigerians, who are accused of involvement in a massive business email scam and money laundering scheme of about $3bn.
A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Thom Mrozek, confirmed that more than a dozen individuals had been arrested during raids on Thursday, mostly in the Los Angeles area.
A total of 80 defendants are allegedly involved in the scheme.
According to American online medium, TechCrunch.com, the early morning raids were first reported in Los Angeles.
The spokesperson said most of the individuals alleged to be involved in the scheme are based in Nigeria.
The report noted that though it was not immediately known if the Nigerians would be extradited to the US, a treaty exists between the two nations, making extraditions possible.
US Attorney, Nicola Hanna, said the case was part of an ongoing effort to protect citizens and businesses from email scams.
The FBI said, “The impersonation attacks have cost consumers and businesses more than $3bn since 2015. Prosecutors said Valentine Iro, 31, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, both Nigerian nationals and residents of California, are accused of running the operation.”
Prosecutors alleged that Iro and Igbokwe were “essentially brokers” of fraudulent bank accounts by fielding requests for bank account information and laundering the money obtained from victims.
“This indictment sends a message that we will identify perpetrators – no matter where they reside – and we will cut off the flow of ill-gotten gains.”