Hey, it's a twist on the Nigerian scam! The U.S. Department of Justice said that a Nigerian national apparently successfully convinced Citibank to transfer money—over $27 million— from the National Bank of Ethiopia into accounts controlled by him and his associates. Luckily, the many of receiving accounts were unable to accept the transfers and the banks alerted Citibank.
According to the NY Times, "the scheme began in September, when Citibank received a package with documents purportedly signed by officials of the Ethiopian bank instructing Citibank to accept instructions by fax. There was also a list of officials who could be called to confirm such requests. The signatures of the officials appeared to match those in Citibank’s records and were accepted by Citibank." Once Citibank received the faxed instructions for money to be wired, the bank called the "officials," whose phone "numbers turned out to be for cellphones in Nigeria, South Africa and Britain used by the conspirators." Of course.
Paul Gabriel Amos was arrested and indicted for attempting to "take over" the NBE's account. Amos, who had been living in Singapore but was caught when arriving in Los Angeles last month, is reportedly in plea negotiations. Citibank told the Times, "We have worked closely with law enforcement throughout the investigation and are pleased it has resulted in this arrest. Citi constantly reviews and upgrades its physical, electronic and procedural safeguards to detect, prevent and mitigate theft.”