NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Nigerian man is facing U.S. charges that he participated in scams targeting thousands of victims globally in which company executives or vendors were impersonated in emails directing employees to make large wire transfers.
David Chukwuneke Adindu, 29, pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday to charges including wire fraud, prosecutors said, more than three weeks after the FBI said he was arrested at a Houston airport.
Adindu’s attorney could not be immediately identified.
The case was the latest example of a growing type of cyber scam called a “business email compromise,” in which fraudsters target businesses that work with foreign suppliers or regularly perform wire transfers.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in June that since October 2013, U.S. and foreign victims have reported 22,143 complaints involving business email compromise scams in which criminals sent requests for almost $3.1 billion in transfers.
According to the indictment, Adindu, who during the period in question resided in both Guangzhou, China and Lagos, Nigeria, worked with others to carry out the scams from 2014 to 2016.
The indictment said Adindu and others exchanged information regarding, among other things, scripts for requesting wire transfers and lists of names and email addresses for contacting and impersonating potential victims.
Among those targeted, the indictment said, was an unnamed New York investment firm, where an employee received an email claiming in June 2015 to be from an investment adviser at another firm asking for a $25,200 wire transfer.
The employee later learned the email was not actually sent by that adviser, and as a result did not comply with a second wire transfer request for $75,100, the indictment said.
The case is U.S. v. Adindu, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-cr-00575.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney