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05.08.2023 Featured Nigerian Admits Stealing $1.2m From American Investment Firm

Published 5th Aug, 2023

By Joseph Adeiye

Onwuchekwa Nnanna Kalu, a 39-year-old man from Rivers State, has confessed to criminally diverting $1.25 million from an investment firm in the United States.

Kalu pleaded guilty in a District of Columbia court on Friday.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had secured Kalu’s arrest and extradition in 2022.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Extradited to US on Trial for $400,000 Cyber Fraud Scheme

David Geist, the acting special agent in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s criminal and cyber division, commented on the FBI’s interest in Kalu’s case.

“Onwuchekwa Nnanna Kalu conspired to steal over $1 million from an investment firm through a business email compromise scheme,” said Geist. “This case should serve not only as a caution to businesses about the dangers of spoofed emails but also as a warning to cybercriminals about the FBI’s dedication to prosecuting fraudsters – even those who operate overseas.”

According to court documents, Kalu and his co-conspirators targeted an investment firm located in Massachusetts (Company A), which had invested in 42 companies across North America, Europe and Israel. Kalu and other conspirators used a business email compromise (BEC) scheme to gain access to the email account of an employee at Company A and installed malware on the unsuspecting employee’s computer that forwarded emails containing certain words like ‘invoice,’ ‘fund,’ ‘pay,’ and ‘wire’ to an external email account controlled by the fraudsters.

The fraudsters then created a bogus domain name for Company A and sent spoofed emails appearing to be from directors of Company A, to a financial services company located in London, England (Company B).

Kalu and his co-conspirators directed Company B to send $1.25 million from Company A’s bank account to bank accounts outside of the US. After they transferred the funds to financial institutions they had access to outside the US, Kalu and others moved some of the money to bank accounts they controlled in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: UK, Sweden Send 4 Nigerians to the US for Fraud Trial

“Business email compromise schemes wreak havoc on companies, governments and other institutions,” US Attorney Matthew M. Graves said while announcing Kalu’s guilty plea on Friday.

“The best way to thwart a BEC scheme is due diligence. Check and double check the email address before responding with any information that could put you or your employer at risk. Once a breach is identified, we will do everything in our power to identify, arrest, and prosecute the perpetrators no matter where they hide.”

District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss scheduled Kalu’s sentencing hearing for November 29, 2023.

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Published 5th Aug, 2023

By Joseph Adeiye

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