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“BOSTON – The United States today filed a civil forfeiture action to recover approximately $5,315,746 in alleged proceeds from a business email compromise (BEC) scheme that targeted a Massachusetts labor union, as well as property related to money laundering.

The complaint alleges that in January 2023, a Dorchester-based union received an email requesting a change in payment information from someone it believed worked at an investment advisory firm. The complaint also alleges that the email came from what appeared to be a genuine email address at the advisory firm, but was actually a fake email address that had been changed by one letter. The fake email instructed the union to make a wire transfer of $6,400,000 to a bank account other than the one previously agreed upon, which the union did, but the fake email was a fraudulent communication designed to trick the union into inadvertently transferring funds to an account controlled by someone other than the intended recipient.

The fraudulently obtained funds were then allegedly transferred through a series of intermediary bank accounts – with some funds being sent or intended to be sent to a cryptocurrency exchange and various bank accounts in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Nigeria. Investigators were able to trace the proceeds of this scheme to seven domestic bank accounts, the contents of which were subsequently seized by U.S. authorities.

“BEC fraud schemes pose a serious threat to businesses and individuals across the country, causing significant financial and emotional harm to victims by exploiting trusted communication channels they rely on every day. Today’s civil forfeiture action demonstrates that when victims report such misconduct to authorities, there are steps we can take to recover stolen funds. We hope today’s action helps restore some level of stability and justice to the victims of the fraud,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy.

Acting U.S. Attorney Levy, Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, and Andrew Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Boston Field Office, made the announcement today. The civil forfeiture proceeding is being led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Lyons of the Asset Recovery Unit, along with Trial Attorneys Jasmin Salehi Fashami and Adrienne E. Rosen of the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Section.

Citizens who believe they have been victims of a cybercrime – including cryptocurrency scams, romance scams, investment scams, and business email compromise (BEC) scams – should contact [email protected].

“The allegations in the complaint and the description of the complaint are merely allegations that certain property is subject to forfeiture. The United States must prove by the burden of proof that the property is subject to forfeiture. If the United States prevails, the court will order that all of a potential claimant’s claims be forfeited.” – Massachusetts Department of Justice.

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