FRAMINGHAM, MA -- A federal jury in Boston convicted a Framingham man today for his role in a business email compromise (BEC) scheme.
Gustaf Njei, 27, was convicted following a five-day jury trial of two counts of wire fraud, one count of structuring to avoid reporting requirements, one count of unlawful monetary transactions, and one count of money laundering conspiracy. U.S. District Court Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for March 9, 2023. A federal grand jury indicted Njei in June 2021.
The evidence at trial established that Njei conspired with others to open bank accounts in Massachusetts in the name of a sham company, to receive the criminal proceeds of a BEC scheme. A BEC scheme is a sophisticated scam often targeting businesses involved in wire transfer payments. The fraud is carried out by compromising and/or “spoofing” legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques, to cause employees of the victim company (or other individuals involved in legitimate business transactions) to transfer funds to accounts controlled by the scammers.
Njei’s co-conspirators used hacked and spoofed email accounts to trick the victims of the scheme into wiring hundreds of thousands of dollars to a bank account under Njei’s control. Njei then transferred part of the funds to a bank account located overseas, while splitting the remaining funds with a co-conspirator in the United States.
“Online criminals spend their days targeting millions of victims with increasingly sophisticated but fraudulent emails. They just need to fool a few people into surrendering their life savings or business revenues to hit a pay day,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Mr. Njei created a bank account in the name of a fake company. These victims sent hundreds of thousands of dollars and suffered real harm as a result of this cyber scheme. People deserve to feel safe and protected in their communities – whether in person or online. Today’s verdict shows that we will find and hold scammers accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Last year, business email compromise scams cost consumers nationwide nearly $2.4 billion and here in Massachusetts victims reported losing almost $68 million. Gustaf Njei’s conviction today demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to holding accountable everyone who participates in these scams, which use lies and deceit to trick victims out of their hard-earned money,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division “We thank the jury for their swift verdict.”
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of structuring to avoid reporting requirements provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of unlawful monetary transactions provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of money laundering conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
U.S. Attorney Rollins and FBI SAC Bonavolonta made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys William B. Brady and Benjamin A. Saltzman of Rollins’ Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
Source: U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts