Any member of your Finance team would be able to spot this scam from a mile away — so why couldn’t this bank?
FBI officials have arrested and charged Paul Gabriel Amos, a Nigerian citizen residing in Singapore, with one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. But instead of relying on the typical “Nigerian scam” where thieves promise a return of millions to individuals who are willing to pay up-front fees, Amos set his sights higher: He swindled Citibank.
Prosecutors say his scheme started in September, when Amos sent Citibank a packet of documents purportedly signed by officials of the National Bank of Ethiopia. The documents requested that Citibank accept all future financial activity instructions via fax, and included a list of names and contact numbers for officials who could confirm the requests.
Citibank received two dozen requests for money totalling $27 million to be wired, so it contacted officials to verify the transactions. The numbers were for cellphones in Britain, Nigeria and South Africa that were used by Amos and his co-conspirators.
After the “officials” approved the wires, the $27 million was moved out of Ethiopia’s coffers and into accounts worldwide.
The fraud was uncovered after several of the receiving banks were unable to process the incoming funds and an official of the National Bank of Ethiopia claimed he didn’t recognize the transactions.