CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, NY – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. today announced that Eric Iwu aka James, 32, a Nigerian citizen currently residing in Buffalo, NY, has been indicted by a criminal conspiracy complaint to commit wire fraud. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000.
Assistant US attorney Charles M. Kruly, who is handling the case, said that according to the complaint, the defendant is accused of facilitating a “Business Email Compromise” (BEC) scam, a type of scam typically targeting businesses that conduct wire transfers and have overseas suppliers and sellers. BEC crooks typically use techniques, such as keyloggers and phishing attacks, to compromise or spoof the corporate or publicly accessible email accounts of senior executives or high-level employees involved in company finances. a business or wire transfer payments to suppliers. BEC attackers pose as the CEO or any executive authorized to make wire transfers. Once access gains access to a victim’s email account, the scammer can then modify the victim company’s payment invoices so that supplier payments are directed to a bank account controlled by the scammer, rather than a bank account controlled by the legitimate and intended beneficiary.
In October 2018, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Buffalo received reports that a victim (Victim 1) in Dubai, UAE, had been the subject of BEC fraud using a Wells Fargo checking account. Wells Fargo Bank said that Victim 1, an electrical construction company, sent a wire transfer in the amount of $ 461,612.00 to Zeeco Inc.’s bank account. Within days of receiving the transfer, two Outgoing wire transfers totaling $ 300,000 were sent to bank accounts at Bank of America in Washington, DC, and Northwest Bank in Buffalo. Subsequently, a checking account was opened at a Citizens Bank in West Seneca, NY, under the name of Krispy Kreme Donut Company LLC. Two wire transfers, one for $ 35,000.00 and the other for $ 4,950.00, were then sent from the Bank of America account in Washington, DC. The registered owner of the Citizens Bank account is the defendant Eric Iwu. Wells Fargo eventually received a wire recall at the request of Victim 1.
In April 2019, HSI Buffalo received information from Northwest Bank that a victim (Victim 2) in the UK had been the subject of BEC fraud using a Northwest Bank checking account. On February 8, 2019, Victim 2, a tooling and automation company, sent a wire transfer in the amount of $ 55,242.36 to the Northwest Bank account of Gunes Dinamik LLC. Shortly thereafter, Northwest Bank received a wire transfer reminder at the request of Victim 2, who claimed the wire was a fraudulent payment and not intended for the payee’s account. The wire callback was denied because funds were depleted from the account. The account was traced back to the accused.
In February 2020, HSI Buffalo received information from Citizens Bank indicating that a business account opened in June 2019 in Buffalo was suspected of BEC fraud. The account was registered in the name of Jasa Cipta Rembaka LLC, (Victim 3) which operated as an insurance company specializing in accident and health insurance. Citizens Bank stated that on June 26, 2019, Victim 3 sent a wire transfer in the amount of $ 131,636.39 to Jasa Cipta Rembaka LLC, account of Citizens Bank. In September 2020, an attorney for Victim 3, located in Singapore, confirmed that the bank transfer of $ 131,636.39 was redirected to the Citizens Bank account based on a fraudulent email received by a representative from the company in Singapore. On December 6, 2019, a California winery (Victim 4) sent a second wire transfer in the amount of $ 112,912.02 to the Citizens Bank account. Victim 4 also confirmed that the winery was the victim of the wire fraud for $ 112,912.02. The account was also assigned to Iwu.
The accused appeared today at a detention hearing before US Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and has been remanded in custody pending further proceedings.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent Matthew Scarpino.
The fact that an accused has been charged with a crime is only an accusation and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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