Four people have been charged after being accused of laundering approximately $1.7 million in stolen funds from both domestic and international sources.
According to the Australian Federal Police, the syndicate was responsible for over fifteen cybercrime episodes between January 2020 and March 2023, where they established eighty bank accounts utilizing stolen identifying information.
In October 2021, the AFP began their investigation after an Indonesian business lost over one hundred thousand dollars in a business email compromise attack. Two women from Brisbane, a man from Melbourne, and another man from Adelaide were connected to the laundering and were part of a larger cybercrime syndicate with connections to South Africa.
Warrants were executed in Manor Lakes and Wyndham Vale in Melbourne, Sherwood, Richlands, and Durack in Queensland, and South Australia. A male aged twenty–six was taken into custody in Wyndham Vale and was charged with possessing a false document and a false foreign travel document. The charges can result in a maximum of ten years imprisonment. He was released on bail and will appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on June 15, 2023.
Two women, aged twenty-seven and thirty-five, were arrested in Sherwood and Durack respectively.
Investigators recovered fake passports, international driver’s licenses, and designer handbags, as well as digital devices that will be further examined.
At the centre of their tactics were BEC attacks, Facebook Marketplace scams, and fraudulent superannuation investments. Losses ranged from two thousand five hundred to nearly half a million dollars.
The group was found to have utilized around one hundred and eighty bank accounts to steal from their victims and launder the proceeds.
Commander Cybercrime Operations Chris Goldsmid stated that cyber crimes have been increasing rapidly, and scammers have become more sophisticated in their methods of fooling people.
He said that Australians reported losses of over ninety-eight million dollars to BEC attacks in the past year, with an average of sixty-four thousand dollars lost per incident. The AFP was able to identify the eighty fraudulent accounts being used by the syndicate and shut them down, with a majority of the fake documents belonging to victims in South Africa, some of whom are Australian citizens.
Goldsmid urged people to stay alert when conducting online transactions and to educate themselves on the latest scams. He warned that failing to be vigilant can result in the loss of life savings.