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Monday, August 7, 2017

Nigerian Citizen Living in North Carolina Arrested for Phishing Scheme Targeting Connecticut and Minnesota School Districts


Nigerian citizen Daniel Adekunle Ojo was arrested last week at his residence in Durham, North Carolina.  He is being charged with fraud and identity theft charges filed by Connecticut U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly.  

According to prosecutors, an employee of the school district in Glastonbury, Connecticut was duped by a phishing scam which Ojo was allegedly behind.  A phishing scam is one where an e-mail that appears to be legitimate asks for private information or asks the recipient to log into an account via a link in the e-mail that leads to a fake site.  Any information obtained via a phishing e-mail can then be used to commit financial crimes.

In the scam in this case, Ojo allegedly spoofed the e-mail address of one school employee to make it appear that that school employee had e-mailed the duped school employee requesting tax information for approximately 1600 school district employees.  Not realizing that the e-mail was not legitimate, the school employee provided the requested information, which was then allegedly used to file 122 bogus tax returns for nearly $600,000.00 in tax refunds.

At least six of the fake tax returns were successful, resulting in $37,000 in refunds being electronically deposited into various bank accounts.

It is also believed by authorities that Ojo is not a first time phisher.  Ojo's e-mail address is allegedly linked to a phishing scam in Bloomington, Minnesota earlier this year and that he may have been involved in a similar phishing scheme that targeted the school district in Groton, Connecticut.

A federal magistrate judge has ordered that Ojo be transferred to Connecticut for prosecution.

My advice on phishing:  Never, ever, ever click a link in an unsolicited e-mail even if it looks like it legitimately came from a company with which you do business.  Phishers used to be easy to spot due to their poor grammar and odd phrasing used in their e-mails.  But they have gotten better and thus less easy to spot.  So think hard before you click.

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