Lebanon’s General Security Head Major General Abbas Ibrahim, announced on Monday the discovery of a $1 billion scam network. Working hand in hand with Iraq’s National Intelligence Service, it was discovered that the network works like a “mafia”, using various practices to extort funds.
The network starts by spreading false information about several Lebanese banks in Iraq, using blackmail as their weapon. The network has been dismantled since, preventing further extortion of funds from the banks.
The latest fraud victim is one of the most important Lebanese institutions when it comes to deposits: Bank Audi. After spreading false information to extort money, the network’s members provided forged documents, claiming they owned multi-million dollar accounts. Once the bank rejected the documents, the scammers would file a lawsuit to dispute the decision, turning to intimidation. It’s speculated that the network relied on former employees of the aimed banks.
According to Ibrahim, Lebanon and Iraq worked together based on information collected by the Iraqi Intelligence authorities. In the released statement, no details were given concerning the country of origin of those involved, neither does it give any details when it comes to the banks’ locations. He added that they are still investigating in the hopes of finding out whether or not there is a wider network that might be involved.
Concerning this issue, it’s good to know that Lebanon works closely with fellow Arab countries, especially since Iraq is witnessing economic difficulties itself. Nevertheless, it’s important to highlight Lebanon’s compliance with international practices, some that require keeping good and regulatory relations with countries in the region, as well as cooperating for various reasons. Moreover, given that the finance sector is a liability for every country, and a single threat could risk bringing it down or damaging it, we hope for interagency and a whole-of-government approach to keep Lebanon away from all forms of forgery, scamming, and money laundering, among other things.