It sounds like something out of a movie.

In Los Angeles, police arrested 17 individuals on charges of “…conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft and money laundering.”

In total, federal prosecutors have indicted 80 individuals on these charges. Six are believed to remain at large in the US, while the remainder appear to live abroad. Those living overseas may be extradited to the US to face prosecution.

“Today, we have taken a major step to disrupt criminal networks that use [business email scam] schemes, romance scams and other frauds to fleece victims…This indictment sends a message that we will identify perpetrators –no matter where they reside- and we will cut off the flow of ill-gotten gains,” stated US attorney, Nicola Hanna.

One of the tricks that this group has played on businesses includes convincing personnel to divulge W2 information, and then creating falsified tax-refunds, or convincing victims to make wire transfers into scammer-owned bank accounts.

Over 30 victims from a combination of the US, Japan, the UK, Lebanon, Ukraine, China, Mexico, Germany, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, and Trinidad and Tobago are participating in the case.

The FBI reports that this network of scammers has walked away with more than $3 billion since 2015. At least one individual bank account owned by scammers has been found to hold more than $40 million in fraudulently obtained funds.

In relation to the case, Paul Delacourt, assistant director of the LA-based FBI office, stated, “Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims,”

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