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Press Release

Buffalo Man Charged With International Email Scam Targeting Businesses And Defrauding Victims Out Of Hundreds of Thousands Of Dollars

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Eric Iwu aka James, 32, a Nigerian citizen currently residing in Buffalo, NY, was charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles M. Kruly, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendant is accused of facilitating a “Business Email Compromise” (BEC) scam, a type of scam typically targeting companies that conduct wire transfers and have suppliers and vendors abroad. BEC scammers typically use techniques, such as key-loggers and phishing attacks, to compromise or spoof the corporate or publicly available email accounts of executives or high-level employees who are involved in a company’s finances or wire transfer payments to vendors. BEC attackers impersonate the CEO or any executive authorized to do wire transfers. Once access has obtained access to a victim’s email account, the scammer can then alter the victim company’s payment invoices so that vendor payments will be directed to a bank account controlled by the scammer, rather than a bank account controlled by the legitimate, intended payee.

In October 2018, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Buffalo received information that a victim (Victim 1) in Dubai, UAE, was the subject of a BEC fraud utilizing a Wells Fargo checking account. Wells Fargo Bank stated that Victim 1, a power construction company, sent a wire transfer in the amount of $461,612.00 to the bank account of Zeeco Inc. Within days of receiving the wire transfer, two outgoing wire transfers totaling $300,000 were sent to bank accounts at Bank of America in Washington, DC, and Northwest Bank in Buffalo. Subsequently, a checking account was opened at a Citizens Bank in West Seneca, NY, under the name Krispy Kreme Doughnut Company LLC. Two wire transfers, one for $35,000.00, and another for $4,950.00, were subsequently sent from the Bank of America account in Washington, DC. The registered owner of the Citizens Bank account is the defendant Eric Iwu. Wells Fargo eventually received a wire recall at the request of Victim 1.

In April 2019, HSI Buffalo received information from Northwest Bank stating that a victim (Victim 2) in the United Kingdom was the subject of a BEC fraud utilizing a Northwest Bank checking account. On February 8, 2019, Victim 2, a tooling and automation company, sent a wire transfer in the amount of $55,242.36 to the Northwest Bank account of Gunes Dinamik LLC. Shortly thereafter, Northwest Bank received a wire recall at the request of Victim 2, who claimed the wire transfer was a fraudulent payment and not intended for the beneficiary account. The wire recall was denied because the funds were depleted from the account. The account was traced to the defendant.

In February 2020, HSI Buffalo received information from Citizens Bank stating that a business account opened in June 2019, in Buffalo, was the subject of a suspected BEC fraud. The account was registered to Jasa Cipta Rembaka LLC, (Victim 3) alleged to be operating as an insurance carrier specializing in accident and health insurance. Citizens Bank stated that on June 26, 2019, Victim 3 sent a wire transfer in the amount of $131,636.39 to Jasa Cipta Rembaka LLC, Citizens Bank account. In September 2020, an attorney for Victim 3, located in Singapore, confirmed that the wire transfer of $131,636.39 was re-directed to the Citizens Bank account based on a fraudulent email received by a representative at the company in Singapore. On December 6, 2019, a winery in California (Victim 4) sent a second wire transfer in the amount of $112,912.02 to the Citizens Bank account. Victim 4 also confirmed that the winery was a victim of the wire fraud for $112,912.02. The account was also traced to Iwu.

The defendant appeared today at a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and was remanded pending further proceedings.

The complaint is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Scarpino.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.  

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Updated April 11, 2023

Financial Fraud