DOJ charges 10 with BEC targeted federal health program

Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Business Email Compromise (BEC), Cybercrime

Suspects reportedly caused total damage of over $11 million

Prajit Nair@prajeetpeaks,
November 19, 2022


The US Justice Department on Friday charged 10 individuals with using commercial email compromise and money laundering schemes to target public and private insurance companies.

See also: Live Webinar | How to meet your zero trust goals through advanced endpoint strategies

These schemes targeted Medicare, state Medicaid programs, private health insurers, and many other victims, resulting in total losses of more than $11.1 million.

The DOJ says the allegations stemmed from BEC schemes, where these alleged individuals posed as business partners to fraudulently withdraw money from victims’ bank accounts or to control co-conspirators.

The accused persons allegedly recruited money mules to transfer funds and used fake email addresses, bank account takeovers and similar fraudulent methods to trick victims into believing they were making legitimate payments.

This is the DOJ’s first coordinated action against individuals from multiple states in connection with multiple BEC, money laundering and wire fraud schemes.

According to a recent report from the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, total losses associated with commercial email compromise theft domestically and internationally from June 2016 to December 2021 totaled $43.3 billion.

FBI It warned earlier this year that business email compromise scams were on the rise, with realized and realized losses rising 65% in the 14-month period ending last December.

In part, this is attributed to the rise in the novel coronavirus pandemic and its knock-on effect of moving more work online.

case details

The DOJ says these attackers fraudulently diverted payments to hospitals for providing medical services.

They tricked victims by spoofing hospital email accounts and sent emails requesting future payments for medical services to newly created bank accounts controlled by the co-conspirators.

“Five state Medicaid programs, two Medicare administrative contractors, and two private health insurers were allegedly defrauded into paying the defendants and their co-conspirators instead of depositing reimbursement payments into bank accounts belonging to the hospitals,” prosecutors say. was.”

The DOJ alleges that these individuals then laundered the fraudulent proceeds “by withdrawing large amounts of cash, depositing them through false and stolen identities and other accounts opened in the names of shell companies by them or their co-conspirators”. took.

Prosecutors allege he also transferred money overseas and bought luxury goods and foreign automobiles.

The charges against defendants in multiple states include six defendants in the Northern District of Georgia, Patrick Nong-baik, 32, of Atlanta, Georgia, who was charged with four counts of money laundering.

Ndong-Bike allegedly used false identities to open bank accounts and shell companies to obtain approximately $2.4 million in BEC fraud proceeds. In total, they laundered approximately $679,000, according to the DOJ.

If convicted, Nong-baek could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Desmond Nkwenya, 35, of Atlanta, Georgia, was charged with two counts of money laundering and one count of bank fraud. He allegedly used false identities to open bank accounts and shell companies and looted all of the approximately $308,000 obtained from the BEC fraud.

Nkwenya also allegedly received approximately $119,000 as a result of a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan application. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Corey Smith, 29, of Atlanta, Georgia, was charged with three counts of money laundering. He allegedly opened a bank account under a false identity and used that account to fraudulently obtain and launder more than $57,000 from a private company in a BEC scheme.

If convicted, Smith could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Chisom Okonkwo, 26, of Atlanta, Georgia, was charged with three counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft and six counts of money laundering.

The DOJ alleges that Okonkwo used theft and false identities to open accounts in the names of shell companies that received approximately $830,000 from the BEC fraud and other similar schemes.

Okonkwo laundered approximately $535,000 through a variety of transactions, including withdrawing large amounts of cash and allegedly paying for a luxury car through a fraudulent loan obtained under the name of a stolen identity was also done.

If convicted, Okonkwo could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Olugbenga Abu, 45, of Atlanta, Georgia, was charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering.

Prosecutors allege that Abu used a false identity to open a bank account that received and laundered more than $95,000 of the BEC fraud proceeds.

He allegedly obtained a fraudulent loan of more than $341,000 and received an additional $65,000 in loan proceeds from the Small Business Administration. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Troyan Thomas, 50, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. He allegedly received and researched $93,000 in Medicare payments that were fraudulently diverted due to a BEC scheme. If convicted, Thomas could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Another defendant who was charged was Bilyamin Fagbewesa, 31, of Columbia, South Carolina. He was charged with three counts of money laundering and one count of illegal purchase of naturalization.

Fagbewesa allegedly used a stolen identity to open bank accounts, fraudulently obtaining more than $1.4 million in proceeds from the state’s Medicaid program, a hospital and others.

The DOJ says, “Approximately $583,000 of which Fagbewesa laundered and spent, among other things, on Fagbewesa’s rental payments.

The other three defendants previously charged are Malachi Mullings, 29, of Sandy Springs, Georgia; Adewale Adesanya, 39, of Jonesboro, Georgia; and Sauveur Blanchard Jr., 49, of Richmond, Virginia.

The defendants’ alleged schemes caused Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurers to lose more than $4.7 million.

They also caused an additional $6.4 million in damages to federal government agencies, private companies and individuals such as elderly romance fraud victims who were duped into sending hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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