Hundreds Arrested in Joint US-Nigeria Crackdown on Cyber Scams

Nigerian and US authorities said Tuesday that nearly 300 people had been arrested in a months-long global crackdown on online scams to hijack wire transfers from companies and individuals.

"Operation reWired" broke up multiple groups, many party of transnational criminal gangs, running the so-called business email compromise (BEC) schemes by which they steal money being used in payments.

The schemes, with the US Justice Department said originated in Nigeria, have spread worldwide and led to some $1.3 billion in losses reported worldwide in 2018, double the previous year.

A "sweep" operation from May through to September, with Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), "focused on dismantling the most significant cyber criminal enterprises," FBI legal attache Ahamdi Uche told a joint press conference in Lagos.

The operation has led to 167 people arrested in Nigeria, 74 in the United States, many of them Nigerian nationals, 18 in Turkey and 15 in Ghana.

Adding other arrests in France, italy, Japan, Malaysia, Britain and Kenya, a total of 281 people have been arrested and $3.7 million seized in Operation reWired, the Justice Department said.

- 'Yahoo Yahoo boys' -

"Our efforts in coordinating the EFCC/FBI joint operations in Nigeria recorded tremendous successes" against "the infamous Yahoo Yahoo boys," a nickname given to Nigerian Yahoo mail fraudsters, said the EFCC's director of information, Mohammed Abba said.

"We have also recovered from the arrested fraudsters the sum of $169,850 (153,000 euros) as well as the sum of 92 million naira (230,000 euros)," Abba said.

"Cooperation is the backbone to effective law enforcement; without it, we aren’t as strong or as agile as we ne ..