Forfeiture Complaint Seeks to Return to New Haven More Than $1.1 Million Seized from Email Scammers
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut
Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Robert Fuller, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI have seized and filed a civil asset forfeiture complaint against $1,187.677.94 that was traceable to a business email compromise attack on the City of New Haven’s Board of Education earlier this year.
As alleged in the complaint, which was filed today in U.S. District Court, criminal actors were able to compromise an email account associated with a member of management team of the City of New Haven’s Board of Education. In June 2023, these actors created a fake email account that mimicked the email of a bus company that held a contract with the Board of Education for bussing. The criminal actors used the compromised email address to send test emails between the compromised email address and the newly created fake bus company email address. Using the fake bus company email address, the criminal actors then were able to change the bus company’s payment information from the real bus company to an account held by the criminal actors. New Haven sent approximately $5.9 million dollars to the account.
The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office were able to trace and seize a portion of the stolen money. With the filing of a civil asset forfeiture complaint, the U.S. is seeking to forfeit and return the money to the City of New Haven. Approximately $3.6 million of the stolen money was previously recovered.
“While we will continue to pursue criminal prosecution of the individuals involved in this scam, recovering the victim’s money is a priority,” said U.S. Attorney Avery. ”Civil asset forfeiture allows the U.S. Attorney’s Office to recover money for victims of fraud, such as business email compromises, romances scams, confidence scams, and other crimes. As these fraud schemes often involve conversion of U.S. currency to digital assets, this process typically involves significant law enforcement resources and specialized training. In recent years, through the civil asset forfeiture process, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut has recovered millions of dollars for Connecticut victims, most of whom do not have the means nor the expertise to trace the money.”
“Despite the advanced level of these particular cyber schemes, our highly trained law enforcement officers and agents haven been able to effectively uncover and stop the ongoing financial losses, and recover funds for the City of New Haven,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Fuller. “Our ongoing focus will continue to be protecting those that remain vulnerable to cyber intrusion and fraud.”
To avoid becoming the victim of a BEC scheme, verify email addresses are accurate when checking mail on a cellphone or other mobile device before you open any attachments or follow any instructions and never make any payment changes without verifying with the intended recipient by phone or in person. If you think you have been a victim of a BEC scheme, immediately contact your bank to request a recall or reversal as well as a Hold Harmless Letter or Letter of Indemnity, and file a detailed complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. The Internet Crime Complaint Center, is run by the FBI and serves as the country’s hub for reporting cybercrime. Visit www.ic3.gov for updated information regarding BEC trends as well as other cyber fraud schemes.
This matter is being investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David C. Nelson.
Updated November 9, 2023