Police bust Nigerian-led ring for bilking U.S. banks

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Police bust Nigerian-led ring for bilking U.S. banks

Police shut down a criminal ring run by Koreans and foreigners that defrauded banks in the United States.

The Cyber Terror Response Center of the National Police Agency said yesterday they caught two Koreans, including a 36-year-old man surnamed Jang, and two Nigerians for mortgage loan fraud. The four defrauded 39 banks in the U.S., including Bank of America. Eight others, including a 32-year-old man surnamed Kang, were charged with cooperating in the fraud. The police said the eight people lent their foreign exchange accounts to the criminal ring. The police said the four suspects had been plotting schemes in Korea, Nigeria and the U.S.

The suspects exploited the loan application process. The entire process only requires few phone calls to bank tellers and submission of necessary documents to banks can be done via fax machines without facing bank clerks.

The suspects collected necessary information, including social security numbers and real names, through voice phishing, then hacked phone lines when banks called mortgage loan applicants for identification after receiving loan applications.

The police said the suspects have received a total of $11 million from 39 different banks in the U.S. on 68 occasions and withdrew the money in Korea, Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia.

The police said suspects working in the U.S. and Nigeria took roles in hacking phone lines and collecting necessary information and suspects in Korea transferred the money.

The suspects also submitted copies of fake export contracts to banks when they transferred the money in order to throw police off their trail.

The NPA said they began investigating the case after receiving a request from the FBI in the U.S. last year and currently are chasing a 42-year-old Nigerian thought to be the leader of the criminal ring.

By Lee Chul-jae, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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