Cyber Security News

Nigerian National Pleads Guilty for Hacking Business & Individual Emails

 Henry Onyedikachi Echefu, a 32-year-old Nigerian national, has admitted to his role in a sophisticated business email compromise (BEC) scheme and money laundering activities.

This case highlights the global nature of cybercrime and the importance of international cooperation in bringing perpetrators to justice.

Henry Onyedikachi Echefu, originally from Nigeria and residing in South Africa during his criminal activities, has recently faced the consequences of his actions in a United States courtroom.

Echefu’s journey to accountability began upon his arrival in the United States on November 30, 2023, following his deportation from Canada.

His guilty plea is pivotal in the ongoing battle against cyber fraud.

BEC Scheme

From February to July 2017, Echefu, alongside his accomplices, engaged in a BEC scheme targeting individuals and businesses.

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By gaining unauthorized access to email accounts, the conspirators sent fraudulent wiring instructions from “spoofed” emails, tricking victims into transferring money to bank accounts under their control.

These “drop accounts” were the first step in a complex web of financial deception.

The illicit funds in the drop accounts were just the beginning. Echefu and his co-conspirators laundered the stolen money through a series of transactions to obscure its origin.

They attempted to cleanse the proceeds of their crimes by transferring funds between accounts, withdrawing cash, and using cashier’s checks.

Echefu personally managed over $22,000 of the fraudulently obtained money, showcasing his direct benefit from these illegal activities.

The US Attorney’s office has revealed that a Nigerian national has pleaded guilty to his involvement in a business email compromise scheme.

Guilty Plea and Sentencing

Acknowledging his involvement, Echefu has agreed to a plea deal with a restitution payment of at least $199,929 to the victims and a separate money judgment of $22,187.35.

He now faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each charge against him, with sentencing scheduled for May 23, 2024.

This case is a stark reminder of the severe consequences awaiting those who engage in cyber fraud and money laundering.

Investigation and Assistance

The successful apprehension and prosecution of Echefu were made possible through the collaborative efforts of various agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore, the U.S. Secret Service – Washington Field Office, and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.

Special recognition was given to the Mid-Atlantic El Dorado Task Force and the Department of Justice Canada’s International Assistance Group for their roles in the investigation and extradition processes.

This case underscores the critical importance of international cooperation in combating cybercrime.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron praised the dedication and hard work of all involved, emphasizing the U.S. justice system’s commitment to holding cybercriminals accountable, regardless of their location.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, Henry Onyedikachi Echefu’s case serves as a cautionary tale for those considering engaging in cybercrime.

It also highlights the resilience and determination of law enforcement agencies worldwide to pursue justice and protect innocent victims from these increasingly sophisticated schemes.

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Divya is a Senior Journalist at GBhackers covering Cyber Attacks, Threats, Breaches, Vulnerabilities and other happenings in the cyber world.

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