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Aug 24 2021

Nigerian man arrested for hacking scheme to steal nearly a million dollars in payroll funds

A Nigerian national was arrested in connection with a scheme to hack into company accounts and steal payroll deposits. The company provides employers across the country with payroll processing services.

Charles Onus, 34, allegedly gained unauthorized access to more than 5,500 company accounts. He then fraudulently diverted payroll deposits totaling over $800,000 to prepaid debit cards that he controlled. The breached accounts were linked to employers whose payroll was handled by the company, including those based in the Southern District of New York.

The FBI believed Onus used a cyber-intrusion technique known as credential stuffing. This type of attack involves collecting stolen usernames and passwords obtained from large-scale data breaches of other firms. The credentials are then used to compromise accounts where the user has maintained the same password with other companies and providers.

The incidents are thought to have occurred from July 2017 to 2018. Onus was arrested in San Francisco and later appeared in Manhattan federal court. He was charged with computer fraud for causing damage to a protected computer, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, among other charges. If convicted on all counts, Onus could face a maximum of 42 years in prison.

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. encouraged businesses to train their employees to change passwords often and use different login credentials across platforms to reduce the risk of cyberattacks. Hacking generally involves getting unauthorized access to a computer or network by exploiting security vulnerabilities.

Computer hacking is a highly technical charge that requires a skilled defense. If you have been accused of hacking or related crimes in New York, contact Brill Legal Group immediately. Our team of knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys has a successful track record of fighting even the most serious charges.