Two Nigerian Men Sentenced For Spearphishing Email Scheme
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that two Nigerian men were sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Geoffrey Crawford for their role in a conspiracy to steal personal financial information from employees of local governments, including the State of Vermont. Earlier this month, Eneye Dania, 31, of Nigeria was sentenced to a 17-month term of imprisonment, and Osariemen Isibor, 32, was sentenced to approximately 14 months he had spent in custody prior to his sentencing. Following the completion of their sentences, both men are expected to be removed from the United States and returned to Nigeria.
The conspiracy involved sending employees of local governments, colleges, and universities, "spearphishing" emails designed to look like they were sent by the employer's human resources departments. The emails advised the employee to click on a link to log into the employer's human resources webpage in order to access payroll and tax withholding data. Rather than connecting the employee to the employer's HR webpage, however, the employee was sent to a page operated by members of the conspiracy. When employees attempted to log on with their usernames and passwords, those log on credentials were captured by members of the conspiracy. Using those credentials, members of the conspiracy accessed the employees' real data, and attempted to file fake tax returns on behalf of the employee, with the hope of receiving a fraudulent tax refund. The IRS detected most of the fraudulent tax filings before refunds issued.
In Court filings, the United States Attorney emphasized that both men participated in the crime while more than 5,000 miles away, in Nigeria, then traveled to the United States after participating in this scheme, apparently unaware that the Federal Bureau of Investigation Cyber Agents were on their case.
The case was investigated by Vermont-based cyber agents of the FBI Albany Cyber Task Force, and the Criminal Investigations division of the Internal Revenue Service, also located in Vermont.
Assistant United States Attorney Michael Drescher was the prosecutor. Dania was represented by Robert Sussman, Esq. Isibor was represented by Paul Volk, Esq.