Hello Beautiful

My name is Prince Adefemi from the Abako kingdom in northern Nigeria, I have fled the region because of boko haram. I have a huge inheritance of $10 million in the National Bank Of Nigeria but I cannot access it without your help. By you helping me I will guarantee you 30% of any money that goes through your bank account.

The above is an example of the infamous 419 Nigerian e-mail scam, a very simple but effective form of a social engineering attack.

For the past 16 years, a Nigerian gang of cyber-criminals operating in south Africa has managed to fraudulently obtain and launder 10’s of millions of dollars. The group made up of 21 cyber criminals were arrested after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the group.

HSI attaches all across Africa, the South African Police Service unit (Electronic crimes Unit) and other law enforcement agencies played major roles in the arrest and extradition of the gang to Mississippi in July 2015.

Last week a Mississippi federal judge showed no mercy as he handed down the lengthy sentences as follows:

  • Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, 30, was sentenced to 95 years in prison
  • Rasaq Aderoju Raheem, 31, was sentenced to 115 years in prison.
  • Femi Alexander Mewase, 45, was sentenced to 25 years in prison

It took a federal jury 3 weeks to find the gang guilty of various charges ranging from mail fraud, wired fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud and theft of government property.

Ayelotan and Raheem were found guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering hence the hefty sentences.

To this date, the justice department has charged 21 defendants of which 12 have pled guilty and 11 have been sentenced. The leader of the gang Teslim Olarewaju Kiriji, 30, of Nigeria had already been sentenced to 20 years.

Evidence at the trial reveals that the gang was deeply involved in cybercrime dating all the way back to 2001. The gang used unsuspecting victims to cash fake checks and money orders, using stolen credit card numbers to make online purchases and using personal identification information to hijack victims back accounts.

The gang cleverly recruited U.S citizens through “romance scams” in which the criminals would falsify their identity on dating websites to establish a romantic relationship with potential victim. Once the victims trust was gained, the criminals would then convince him or her to either send money or ask them to carry out one of their many fraud schemes.

To avoid becoming a victim of these 419 scams one should:

  • Understand that there are NO princes in Nigeria that have millions to send you.
  • Never give out personal banking information to people you’ve just met online
  • Don’t use sleazy dating sites
  • Don’t open attachments that come with poorly written e-mails.
  • Use good judgment, if it’s too good to be true then it usually is.

If you believe that you have been a victim of this cyber-crime, please go to http://www.justice.gov/usao-sdms/scams and complete the questionnaire.