FBI arrest Nigerian for stealing $800,000 in payroll hack

Charles Onus, a Nigerian, has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for his alleged involvement in a $800,000 money laundering scheme.

According to a statement issued by the US Department of Justice on Wednesday, Onus was involved in a scheme to steal payroll deposits by conducting cyber intrusions into multiple user accounts maintained by a company that provides human resources and payroll services to employers across the country.

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He was said to have been arrested and detained on April 14 in San Francisco, and he was scheduled to appear in Manhattan Federal Court on June 2 before Magistrate Judge Sarah Cave.

According to the allegations in the indictment, the suspect was involved in the scheme from July 2017 to 2018.

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During the scheme, unauthorised access was allegedly gained to over 5,500 company user accounts via a cyber intrusion technique known as “credential stuffing.”

After successfully gaining unauthorised access to a company user account, Onus was accused of changing the bank account information designated by the account’s user to enable him to receive the user’s payroll to a prepaid debit card under his control.

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It added, “The compromised company user accounts were associated with employers whose payroll was processed by the company, including employers located in the Southern District of New York.”

Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss said, “Charles Onus allegedly participated in a scheme that stole nearly $1 million by hacking into a payroll processing company’s system to access user accounts and divert payroll to prepaid debit cards he controlled.

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“As alleged, Onus did this as effectively as someone who commits bank burglary, but with no need for a blowtorch or bolt-cutters. Thanks to the FBI and IRS-CI, Onus is in custody and facing serious federal charges.”

According to the statement, “at least approximately 5,500 company user accounts were compromised between July 2017 and 2018, and more than $800,000 in payroll funds were fraudulently diverted to prepaid debit cards, including those under the control of Onus.”

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