A Nigerian citizen living in the United States on a student visa will be spending the next few years in a U.S. prison instead of a college campus.
U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade sentenced Amechi Colvis Amuegbunam to 46 months in federal prison for spearheading an email scam that swindled more than 10 companies out of about $3.7 million The Dallas Morning News reports.
According to an FBI indictment, Amuegbunam and his accomplices sent fraudulent emails, from November 2013 through August 2015, to companies in Texas and elsewhere that tricked the recipients into wiring large sums of money to bank accounts.
Investigators said he’s responsible for attempting to defraud American companies out of $1.3 million and succeeding to steal $615,550. His targets included JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.
The newspaper said the “business email compromise” scam involves setting up a fraudulent email address that looks similar to the one used by the targeted company.
Amuegbunam would send an urgent message—which appears to come from a company executive—to someone in the company who is authorized wire money.
For example, he transposed two letters in Luminant Corporation’s email address—to lumniant.com—and told the employee to wire $98,550 to a bank account in London.
Accomplices would accept the transfers into their personal bank accounts and transfer the money elsewhere. The News said these types of unexpected money transfer requests are not unusual in companies that work with foreign suppliers.
Amuegbunam, 30, pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The judge ordered him to pay $615,555 in restitution. After serving his sentence, he will be deported to Nigeria, where his attorney told The News that Amuegbunam plans to become a farmer and produce organic pesticides.
The FBI said cybercriminals swindled more than 7,000 U.S. companies out of about $740 million through this increasingly popular scam.