I’ve told you before how difficult it is for U.S. law enforcement to get their hands on overseas scammers. However, in this case, Tennessee managed to extradite a crook cybercrook from his home in Ghana.
Officials indicted Maxwell Atugba Abayeta for computer fraud, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and money laundering. He’s accused of ripping off individuals and companies for millions of dollars through various types of email scams.
The indictment alleges that Abayeta and his Africa-based co-conspirators got into the servers and email systems of a Memphis-based real estate company in June and July 2016.
They used the oldest trick in the book, sending phishing emails with fake return addresses that tricked employees of the business into clicking on it and infecting their servers with malware.
The crooks then began emailing the clients and business partners of the real estate company and redirecting closing money to Africa.
This scam is called a business-email compromise, or BEC. Companies and individuals in Memphis lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in this scheme.
But Mr. Abayete didn’t just stick to business hacking. He’s also charged with:
- romance scams
- fake check scams
- gold buying scams
- advance-fee scams
- credit card scams
Officals said he used a complex network to move money and goods from the U.S. to Africa. Oftentimes, he used unknowing individuals he’d recruited through his scams.
Abayete also posed as a woman named “Sandra Lin” to lure people into his web of lies. Overall, he’s alleged to have scammed people out of millions of dollars.
Seven other individuals have pleaded guilty to being involved in these schemes.