Federal Bureau of Investigation announces arrest of 74 email fraudsters

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"It's easy to hide in a mesh of email accounts, so this is good news".

Multiple Houston agencies were involved in the operation, including the FBI Houston Cyber Task Force, the Houston Police Department, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

"To avoid becoming a victim of BEC and EAC scams, verify the authenticity of any email you receive, especially those that request you to send money through a wire transfer", Turner said.

Many of these cases involved worldwide criminal organizations which defrauded not only small-to-large sized businesses but also individuals including real estate purchasers and the elderly. The scammers may also target personally identifiable information or employee tax records in addition to money. The fraudsters convinced people to transfer money by hijacking email addresses and impersonating business partners. These types of attacks use social engineering tactics to trick unsuspecting employees and business executives into making wire transfers to bank accounts that are controlled by the criminals. The fraudsters will also target individuals with romance or lottery scams.

Separate research by Proofpoint released in February claimed that by the end of 2017, almost 89% of all organizations studied were targeted by at least one BEC attack - a large jump from the 75% targeted in Q4 2016.

Email fraud is a booming business for cybercriminals, with the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimating there's been more than $3.7 billion lost because of such scams.

Fraud-fighting expert Shirley Inscoe, senior analyst at Aite Group, notes: "It is always a very positive thing to see law enforcement agencies working together internationally to fight fraud and punish the perpetrators".

It said the arrests reflect a coordinated crackdown on people who convince correspondents to wire them money for fraudulent activities.

"We will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners around the world to end these fraud schemes and protect the hard-earned assets of our citizens", Federal Bureau of Investigation director Christopher Wray said in a statement.