While scammers on the internet have surely gotten more and more sophisticated, one busted scammer is making headlines due to the fact that his sophisticated fake-invoice scam bilked two of the biggest tech companies out of millions.
Fortunately, despite committing these crimes abroad, the scammer was found out, arrested and extradited to New York, where he is now potentially facing a few decades behind bars. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $50 million, and reportedly both Google and Facebook were able to recover much of what they paid.
Details of the Scam
The fraudster created invoices that appeared to originate from a legitimate company that does business with both Google and Facebook, and then sent those invoices to each.
Despite the fact that those invoices were fake, they somehow slipped by both Google and Facebook, and the payments were sent to the scammer, rather than the actual company. This is likely because the scammers created more than just fake invoices. The scammer also created fake letters, contracts, emails and more, to substantiate the fraud.
All in all, before authorities caught up with him, it’s estimated he got $23 million out of Google and $98 million out of Facebook.
Interestingly, the fraudster pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, even though there clearly appears to be multiple instances. Generally, wire fraud is simply fraud that occurs over the phone or internet, and each individual fraudulent act, such as a single email or a phone call, could be charged as a separate count.
Penalties for wire fraud can include fines as well as lengthy prison sentences of up to 20 years, or longer if the fraud is related to a disaster, or involves financial institutions.