HOUSTON - Cletus N. Anyanwu, 36, was arrested by Houston Police and the FBI Wednesday, Nov. 18 on the first-degree felony of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, specifically money laundering of $300,000 or more.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg says Cletus Anyanwu was the mastermind behind a cyber scam that netted almost $1 million by interfering with the business emails between a company in New Zealand that was buying an airplane and a company in Australia that was selling it.
According to the District Attorney's Office, his arrest was the result of two and a half years of investigations and prosecutions. He faces 15 to 99 years, or life if convicted.
“Cyber fraud is among the fastest-growing crimes in the world,” said Ogg.
“Small business can be crushed, a government can be held hostage, or a corporation brought to a standstill all by hacking and fraud. We are dedicated to helping victims by bringing cyber terrorists and thieves to justice.”
Anyanwu was a local ringleader who organized co-defendants and bank accounts to receive funds redirected by hackers who infiltrated the email of two companies regarding the sale of an airplane for $1,028,000 in May 2018, according to charging documents.
By substituting the bank routing information on the deal, two bank transactions for $15,000 and $913,000 were redirected to accounts in Houston.
“We’re trying to stop all kinds of computer and email scams, including business scams like this. This company lost a million dollars, and that money is just gone,” said Assistant Harris County District Attorney Keith Houston, the prosecutor handling the case.