Africa

Nigeria’s Charles Onus stole $1 million by hacking into US payroll processing company’s system?

Charles Williams Onus, 34, of Nigeria has been arrested in the United States. He was charged with computer fraud for causing damage to a protected computer, computer fraud for unauthorized access to a protected computer to further intended fraud, receipt of stolen money, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. 

Onus is accused of stealing payroll deposits processed by a company that provides human resources and payroll services to employers across the U.S. He allegedly participated in a scheme from about July 2017 to 2018 to conduct cyber intrusions of multiple user accounts maintained by the company.

During this period, 5,500 company user accounts were compromised and more than $800,000 in payroll funds were fraudulently diverted to prepaid debit cards, including those under Onus’s control. The compromised accounts were associated with employers whose payroll was processed by the company, including employers located in New York, USA.

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On April 14, 2021, Onus was arrested in San Francisco, California, USA and detained. On June 2, 2021, he was presented in federal court in Manhattan, New York City, New York before Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave.

According to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, Onus committed the crime “as effectively as someone who commits bank burglary but with no need for a blowtorch or bolt-cutters.” The lawyer praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) for their investigative work.

Strauss also thanked the FBI Field Office in San Francisco, the FBI New York Cyber Task Force, the New York City Police Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their assistance in the investigation of the case, which was assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe. IRS-CI special agent-in-charge Jonathan D. Larsen assured that they will always work with the law enforcement partners to track down those who try to breach the tax and financial infrastructure of the U.S. 

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