A Nigerian national, Kosi Goodness Simon-Ebo, residing in South Africa, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering as part of a business email compromise (BEC) scheme, causing losses exceeding $6 million to the victims, according to US authorities. Simon-Ebo’s plea agreement revealed that from February 2017 until at least July 2017, he conspired with others to perpetrate a BEC scheme.
Furthermore, this scheme involved gaining unauthorized access to email accounts, sending false wiring instructions from spoofed emails to deceive victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by the perpetrators.
In addition to wire fraud, Simon-Ebo and his co-conspirators also engaged in money laundering during the same period. They distributed stolen funds to “drop accounts,” moved the money to other accounts, withdrew cash, obtained cashier’s checks, and wrote checks to other individuals and entities. The intended loss for transactions directly involving Simon-Ebo was approximately $6,988,249, with an actual loss of at least $1,072,306. Simon-Ebo had direct control over at least $45,925 of the funds obtained from victims.
As a result of his guilty plea, Simon-Ebo has been ordered to pay a monetary judgment of $45,925 and fully compensate the victims, an amount agreed upon by all parties to be at least $1,072,306. He now faces the possibility of up to 20 years in federal prison for his involvement in the wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. This case highlights the serious consequences individuals may face for engaging in cybercriminal activities such as BEC schemes, which continue to pose a significant threat to individuals and businesses worldwide.
In December 2022, the FBI, FDA OCI, and USDA jointly issued a security advisory warning of the risks associated with business email compromise (BEC) attacks, particularly in the context of the hijacking of shipments of food products and ingredients. Such warnings underscore the importance of cybersecurity vigilance and the need to combat cybercrime on multiple fronts.