Nine men were arrested for $3.5 million email scams that promised romantic relationships and Russian oil investment opportunities

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  • Nine men have been arrested in three different states in connection to a series of email scams that earned them $US3.5 million.
  • Federal authorities announced the arrests stemmed from three large scams, in which victims sent money to bank accounts posed as businesses, Russian oil investment opportunities, and love interests.
  • The scams followed models common to similar false emails that seek to elicit payment or personal information online or in person from unsuspecting victims.
  • Read more stories like this at www.thisisinsider.com.

Nine men have been arrested in three different states in connection to a series of email scams that earned them $US3.5 million.

Federal authorities announced Thursday that the nine defendants were arrested over two days in Florida, New York, and Texas and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection to three email-based schemes.

Homeland Security Investigation Special Agent-in-Charge James C. Spero said in a press release that the arrests had dismantled “a transnational criminal organisation allegedly conducting illicit domestic and international wire fraud.”

The Department of Justice detailed in an indictment the defendants had employed a “Business Email Compromise” that contacted victims under the guise of a legitimate business transaction.

Two other schemes detailed in the indictment include a “Russian Oil Scam,” which offered victims the chance to invest in oil stored in Russian oil tank farms with an up-front wire transfer, and a “Romance Scam” that involved the perpetrators “sending email messages and text messages… purporting to be a female with romantic intentions toward the victim requesting [a wire payment to advance] establishing a romantic relationship.”

Victims involved in the three scams transferred a total of $US3.5 million into bank accounts named after shell companies controlled by the defendants.

Each defendant is facing a maximum potential of 20 years in prison.

The types of scams detailed by federal officials in this case are versions of some of the most common imposter scams conducted online for profit. A webpage for Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody details several types of false identities and relationships that potential scammers use to reach out to their victims.

Among the most common approaches include scammers posing as a charity over email or in person, love interests on dating sites or social media, and federal authorities demanding payment for missing jury duty, withholding tax money, or evading arrest.

Anyone who believes they may be a victim of an imposter scam can file complaints with appropriate state agencies.

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