International BEC Investigation Nets 281 Arrests, $3.7M Seized

Federal authorities announced Tuesday a coordinated effort to disrupt Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes that are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals.

Operation reWired, a coordinated law enforcement effort by the U.S. departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Treasury, State and the Postal Inspection Service, was conducted over a four-month period and resulted in 281 arrests in the U.S. and nine other countries across three continents, Africa, Asia and Europe.

The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $3.7 million.

“The Department of Justice has increased efforts in taking aggressive enforcement action against fraudsters who are targeting American citizens and their businesses in business email compromise schemes and other cyber-enabled financial crimes,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in a statement.

"Through Operation reWired, we’re sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these BEC schemes: We’ll keep coming after you, no matter where you are," added FBI Director Christopher A. Wray.  "And to the public, we’ll keep doing whatever we can to protect you.  Reporting incidents of BEC and other internet-enabled crimes to the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) brings us one step closer to the perpetrators.”

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in July highlighted new efforts to combat BEC scams. Suspicious activity reports (SARs) have indicated that BEC scams led to more than $300 million stolen a month in 2018, more than three times what was reported in 2016.