Connect with us

News

FBI – How Kenyans stole over Sh300 million from US firms

Published

on

On August 1 last year, employees at the finance department of the little-known Fairfax County, which forms part of the suburban ring of Washington, DC in the United States, received an email they believed to be from the headquarters of Dell Computers in Texas.

Fairfax had a running multimillion-dollar computer supply deal for its schools in the county, and the email indicated it had been written by the Accounts Payables department of Dell. It asked Fairfax to reroute its pending payments, which were almost due, to another account in Ohio.

ELECTRONIC TRANSFERS

Fairfax County obliged, and from August 8 to September 10 sent a total of $1,345,423.20 (Sh134 million) to the new account using electronic transfers. In total, the county sent 28 payments ranging from as low as $328 (Sh32,800) to as high as $241,223 (Sh2.4 million).

Unknown to the county, the money was being transferred almost immediately it hit the Ohio account to several other accounts worldwide before ending up thousands of kilometres away in the hustle and bustle of Nairobi. By September 10, when Fairfax County discovered it was being defrauded, some $526,517.04 (Sh52 million) had already been withdrawn in Nairobi.

“The fraudulent email account was very similar to a Dell employee’s true email address and contained revised banking information for Dell,” evidence filed in US courts would later say.

This discovery triggered a chain of investigations which were eventually taken over by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), which was deployed to Nairobi. The global hunt for the suspects, code-named Operation reWired, was then widened to include a search for criminals in similar schemes. It eventually led to the arrest of 281 suspects from nine countries and was only made public last week by the FBI.

Following that revelation, the Nation is today giving you details of one of the most brazen Kenyan cyber theft syndicates in recent history.

The FBI sweep resulted in the seizure of nearly $3.7 million (Sh384 million) and the disruption and recovery of approximately $118 million (Sh12 billion) in fraudulent wire transfers.

“The FBI is working every day to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that target our businesses and our citizens,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Through Operation Re Wired, we are sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes that ‘I will keep coming after you, no matter where you are’. The effects of this crime are far-reaching, and the dollar amounts involved are staggering.”

The FBI has since 2013 gathered reports of more than $10 billion (Sh1 trillion) in losses from US victims alone. The worldwide tally is more than $26 billion (Sh2.6 trillion).

READ ALSO:   Kenyans among 78 people arrested in 'ICE' raids in US this week

BEC fraud is a new sophisticated type of cyber-enabled crime facilitated by the Internet where fraudsters use hacked email accounts to convince businesses or individuals to make payments that are either bogus or similar to actual payments owed to legitimate companies.

As part of the scam, fraudsters learn about key personnel in companies who are responsible for payments as well as the protocols necessary to perform wire transfers in various companies and then target the businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments.

Interestingly, Kenya and Nigeria were the only African countries on the list of nations where the FBI made arrests and recovered property bought by scammers after a year of investigations. Other countries in the list include Italy, Japan, Malasyia, United Kingdom, France and Turkey.

The big puzzle for the FBI was how Kenya and Nigeria, two African countries with meagre computing skills and resources, had hacked their way into a list of major global cybercrime hotspots.

But with its good Internet speeds, easy availability of cheap computers and a robust banking system driven by technology, it is not difficult to figure out why Kenya has bred such sophisticated criminals.

So entrenched is the vice among Kenyan hackers that the US government now has a special unit whose role is to monitor cybercrime emanating from IP addresses in Kenya.

The American Embassy in Nairobi declined to give us the list of Kenyans who were arrested and extradited to the US to face charges, or the assets repossessed during Operation Re Wired.

Documents filed by the US Department of Justice however indicate that three Kenyans, Robert Mutua Muli, Amil Hassan Raage, and Jeffrey Sila Ndungi, were arrested during the time of the operation.

Between them they had stolen $3,154,118.83 (Sh315.4 million). About half of this money has not been recovered, according to court papers in the US. All the three have been found guilty of their crimes after making plea bargain deals with the courts. Mr Muli is set to be sentenced next month, on October 4, Mr Raage will know his fate on October 11, while Mr Ndungi has already begun his 20-year sentence.

However, among the three it is Mr Muli, a 59-year-old Kenyan immigrant from Ohio, Texas, who had stolen the most; $2,128,133.83 (Sh212 million), followed by Mr Raage, 48, who was picked by FBI detectives from Nairobi on May 9 this year with $949,393.14 (Sh94 million) in his bank accounts.

READ ALSO:   Body of Kenyan man still in N. Carolina mortuary close to 3 months after his death

Mr Ndungi, 33, who was in April last year sentenced to 20 years in prison, had only managed to steal $76,592.86 (Sh7.6 million) before FBI detectives lured him to fly to a trap in Dallas, Texas from Nairobi. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport as the plane he had boarded sat on the tarmac waiting for clearance to fly to London, where he would have connected to Nairobi.

Before the US theft, it appears that the 2010 University of Nairobi engineering graduate had not only honed his skills by hacking and selling DStv bouquets in Kenya and Nigeria from his house in South B, Nairobi, but also made tonnes of money while at it. So lucrative was this venture that by the age of 26, just two years after graduating, Mr Ndungi had bought two Cessna planes with the tail numbers 5Y-CCN and 5Y-CCO.

In 2013 he leased one of the planes to Nairobi Flight Training Limited. Apart from that he also owned a top-of-the-range Escalade and a Range Rover Sport, which the US repossessed after he was arrested. He also had a house at Executive Suites Estate in South B.

During his trial, it emerged that Mr Ndungi had filed fake tax return requests amounting to $116,000 (Sh11 million) using the names of a person who had died — Mrs Cynthia Short — by pretending she was still alive and based in Nairobi.

“These returns used social security numbers belonging to deceased individuals and attached fictitious forms reporting substantial wages. However, many of the addresses and bank accounts receiving fraudulent tax refunds are located in the US,” say court papers.

As Mr Ndungi was being sent to prison to start his term, detectives had on their sights two other Kenyans, Mr Muli and Mr Raage, who had apparently tricked their victims to think they were receiving emails from Dell Computers.

Apart from defrauding the Fairfax County government by tricking them that they were sending payments for computers to Dell, Mr Muli also conned Vermont County government of $13,684.63 (Sh1.3 million) and the Detroit County government of $769,226 (Sh79 million). In these deals, he tricked his victims by pretending to be other companies other than Dell Computers, but the mode of operation was similar to what he had used on Fairfax County.

In papers filed before court, Mr Muli is said to have opened a business checking account at Wells Fargo Bank in the name of Rogram Home Improvement Ltd on February 22, 2018. In the application to open the account, he said he was the sole owner of Rogram.

READ ALSO:   Check the results for the U.S. Green Card Lottery 2018 (Diversity Visa 2018) here

Between May and July 2018, The City of Detroit entered into a sales agreement with another firm named Aecom Great Lakes Limited to meet the sales needs of the city.

“On May 14, 2018 a co-conspirator of Mr Muli sent an email to the City of Detroit from an email falsely claiming to be an Aecom Great Lakes employee, directing the city of Detroit’s office of Contracting and Procurement to change the Aecom Great Lakes bank of records to Wells Fargo and directing payments to a second account which was at all times controlled by Mr Muli. The email account name matched the name of a former Aecom employee,” say court papers.

On May 25, 2018, the City of Detroit made a $69,464 deposit to the new account, and on June 1 a second payment of $699,802 was made to the account.

On May 25, which was the same day that $69,464 hit the fake account that the City of Detroit thought belonged to Aecom, $49,990 was transferred to Rogram Home Improvement. Then, 11 days later, on June 6, $74,527 and $39,990 were transferred to Mr Muli’s personal account, which was then wired to Kenya. Most of this cash was recovered, but the City of Detroit lost $130,154 in the scam.

As he was busy defrauding the City of Detroit, Mr Muli was also engaged in a similar fraud targeting the State of Vermont, this time by faking he was yet again a Dell employee. Like Mr Ndungi before him, Mr Muli was arrested in Texas as he attempted to flee to Kenya.

Mr Raage, however, managed to escape to Nairobi on September 22 last year after his bank accounts were frozen, but was arrested eight months later, on May 8, by the FBI. He was extradited to the US on May 23 to face justice.

Before being smoked out, Mr Raage had defrauded the University of California, San Diego of $749,158 (Sh75 million) and Pennsylvania University of $123,643 (Sh12 million) by tricking them to make payments they believed were going to Dell Computers.

So perplexed was the US Justice Department on the arrest of Mr Raage that Attorney Robert Brewer would later say that “modern criminals like Raage have ditched the ski mask and getaway vehicle and opted for a computer as their weapon of choice.”

-nation.co.ke

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Court suspends Mary Wambui’s appointment as Employment Authority boss

Published

on

Not so fast, the employment court has told politician Mary Wambui in her quest to take the job at the National Employment Authority.

Justice Hellen Wasilwa issued the order in Nairobi on Wednesday in a case filed by the Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association.

In the case championed by the association’s chairman-cum-Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, the petitioners argue that Ms Wambui is not qualified under the law, policy and best practice, to be the chairperson of the authority.

NOT CONFORM

Ms Wambui, Mr Sakaja’s team argues, does not conform to the provisions of Section 10 (2)(c) of the National Employment Authority Act and does not meet the threshold of having at least seven years’ experience in human resource management or its equivalent.

The qualifications of the chairperson of the authority, they say, are mandatory and not discretionary.
The association says Ms Wambui has on several occasions personally admitted that she possesses a limited education, which for all intents and purposes makes her unqualified and unsuitable to conduct the affairs of the chairperson.

The petitioners argue that her appointment would disfranchise the Kenyan taxpayer given the very strategic nature of the position.

“The directive of appointing the 3rd respondent, who is not qualified is not only retrogressive, arbitrary and stale, but also attempts to uncharacteristically undermine the principles of public participation and guiding principles of leadership and integrity,” the petition reads.

READ ALSO:   Body of Kenyan man still in N. Carolina mortuary close to 3 months after his death

Justice Wasilwa certified the case as urgent and set the hearing for November 14.

-Nairobinews

Continue Reading

Entertainment

‘My addiction with strippers left me in debts worth millions,’ Robert Burale

Published

on

Robert Burale has in the past been in debts running into millions but he managed to come out of it unlike most Kenyans who are still struggling.

In a past interview with K24 Faraja, Burale stated that his addiction to stripping and the pressure to keep up a facade of a flashy lifestyle pushed him into debts.

I used to live with both my parents during primary and secondary school but at some point they separated.

Life was good as we were living a high end life before I went to study marketing in London.

I enjoyed going to a new country and the freedom that came with it.

Robert Burale

Little did Burale know that some types of friends can either make or break you.

When I went there I made both good and bad friends.

I was lucky because everything was being paid for by my dad for during my first year so I had a lot of free time.

I started going to strip clubs while in London with the friends I had made.

He adds,

As an African man living abroad, every one wants you, so the attention started making us do things we would not consider doing before.

We started hoping from one strip club to the other.

At some point we got bored with strip clubs in our area and we started venturing to other areas.

He adds,

STRIP GIRLS ARE TAUGHT HOW TO MILK YOU DRY.

WHEN THEY SEE YOU HAVE MONEY, THEY WILL MILK ALL OF IT. WHEN YOU DON’T CHUCK OUT MONEY THEY WILL MAKE SURE YOU GIVE THEM SOME.
EVEN IF IT MEANS REMOVING THEIR BRA.

Burale adds it took time for him to accept his addiction.

READ ALSO:   Body of Kenyan man still in N. Carolina mortuary close to 3 months after his death

It took time for me to know I am addicted. For three years I was just in strip club evangelism where we ‘recruit’ other people into the club.

When I came back to Kenya I found so many strip clubs had been opened and so I started going to savor their services.

Pastor Burale
Robert Burale’s book ‘From the strip club to the pulpit’

He adds

The problem was that when I was in London there was money but once I came back I had no money as my dad had passed away.

The family started fighting for what he had.

In a past interview with Radio Jambo, his ex wife Rozinah Mwakideu, had stated that one of the many reasons they broke up is the many debts he had.

I would receive calls now and then from people and police saying Robert had unsettled debts.

It was a character he had and I kept waiting because I thought he would change because he was born-again.

For example, the main reason why I left was after my friend came to visit me and after she left she wanted to sue him. I couldn’t handle that pressure plus other personal issues.

Robert Burale and ex-wife
Robert Burale and ex-wife Rozinah

Burale explains that his addiction to stripping was where his journey to debts began.

There is no strip club where a woman will give you a show with no money.

There are men who spend even 100,000 on a night.

I once did that and the sad thing is that it was borrowed money.

He adds,

I had to keep up a reputation. I had to go to big hotels and dress well so I kept borrowing.

With time my debts ran into millions.

It got so bad that I had to borrow *John to pay *Peter and the cycle continued.

I only accepted I had a problem after I tried committing suicide.

Burale is now out of debt and this he did by paying off debts slowly with the money he got from his jobs as a motivational speaker, actor and Image consultant.

READ ALSO:   VIDEOS: Amb Githae lauds Kenya USA Diaspora Sacco for "contributing over Sh 300M to Kenyan economy"

His advice to people out there is

If you are broke accept it. Ask for help

By Mpasho

Continue Reading

News

Kenyan teen goes missing in Germany after quarreling with her parents

Published

on

Police in Potsdam, Germany are looking for a Kenyan teen who went missing a week ago from her home after quarreling with her parents

The 15-year-old only identified as Britney, has been missing since Tuesday, October 15, 2019.

Mkenya Ujerumani, a local blog about Kenyans in Germany reports that the teen had a quarrel with her parents before she left their home in Drewitz in Potsdam.

At the time she is reported to have said she was going visit some acquaintances but never showed up nor returned home.

Her parents are worried since this is the first time Britney has been away from home for such a long time.

A day after she disappeared, a passerby walking by the banks of River Havel came across a bag with Britney’s personal belongings, identification and some clothes.

POLICE SEARCH

Upon reporting to the police, divers, a helicopter, a drone and search dogs from the coast guard were dispatched for a search operation in the river but nothing was found.

Police printed posters that were placed around all the major train stations in Potsdam but none of the four received clues brought them closer to finding the girl.

“The investigation team consists of ten police officers and will be headed by Commissioner Falk Heidke, who has substantial experience in the search of missing children and teenagers,” the spokeswoman for the Police Department West said on Friday.

READ ALSO:   Kenyans among 78 people arrested in 'ICE' raids in US this week

Britney moved to Germany from Kenya with her mother and her younger brother about two and a half years ago. She attends a Gesamtschule in Potsdam.

By Nairobi News

Continue Reading

Are you looking for a Church to fellowship in Atlanta Metro Area?

poapay3

Like us on Facebook, stay informed

NEWS TRENDING RIGHT NOW

2019 Calendar

September 2019
M T W T F S S
« Aug   Oct »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  
satellite-communication1.jpg

Trending

error: Content is protected !!