Fraudster stole $870,000 from 2 US universities with spear-phishing mails

A crook involved in a spear phishing scheme and that was in Kenya is facing up to 20 years in the US federal prison for stealing thousands of dollars from US universities.

Amil Hassan Raage, 48, pleaded guilty last week in a southern California court to fraudulently receiving almost $750,000 as part of a spear phishing scheme.

The man charged of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud risks a maximum of 20 years jail sentence.

“Amil Hassan Raage pleaded guilty to fraudulently receiving almost $750,000 as part of a spear phishing scheme. (Spear-phishing is when an unwitting victim responds to a bogus email, which the victim believes is from a trusted sender, and reveals confidential information to the fraudsters.) ” reads the press release published by the DoJ.

The man will be sentenced by Judge Gonzalo Curiel in the San Diego court on October 11.

On July 23, 2018, the man sent a spear phishing message from a fraudulent Dell email account to the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and instructed its personnel into making the payment for Dell equipment to a bank account under the control of Raage. UCSD employee followed the instructions and redirected 28 payments totaling $749,158.37. 

Raage and his co-conspirators also used the same scheme against an unnamed university in Pennsylvania redirecting a total of $123,643.77 to the man’s account.

The crook received a total of more than $870,000 in payments from officials at the two universities.

After the authorities discovered the fraudulent activity, the bank froze Raage’s accounts, and the man fled to Kenya on September 22, 2018.

A joint effort of Kenyan law enforcement, the FBI’s Legal Attaché in Kenya, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, and Kenyan lead to the arrest of the criminal on May 7, 2019, and he has been extradited to the United States on May 23, 2019.

“Modern criminals like Raage have ditched the ski mask and getaway vehicle and opted for a computer as their weapon of choice,” US Attorney Robert Brewer.

“As this defendant has learned, we are matching wits with new-age thieves and successfully tracking them down and putting an end to their high-tech deception.”

The US DoJ warns that this type of spear-phishing activity is increasing, and universities and government officers are privileged targets of cyber criminals.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – spear-phishing, cybercrime)

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