Alleged cyber criminals in Adelaide, Sydney charged over $11 million identity theft

Alleged cyber criminals in Adelaide and Sydney have been accused of stealing more than $11 million by hacking into businesses and modifying payroll, superannuation and credit card details.

Key points:

  • Three people are accused of stealing $11 million from Australian businesses
  • They allegedly used personal information to modify financial records
  • They will face court in Adelaide and Sydney today

One of them, a 31-year-old man formerly of Adelaide, was arrested at a library in Sydney’s Green Square yesterday.

The other two, 32-year-old Jason Lees and 28-year-old Emily Walker, were arrested in the Adelaide suburb of Seaton last night.

New South Wales police said more than 80 personal and financial profiles were stolen for the purpose of committing fraud.

They said the 31-year-old committed the crimes in South Australia from early 2019, and then in NSW from August 2019.

He was due to face 24 fraud-related charges in Newtown Local Court today.

Mr Lees and Ms Walker today faced the Adelaide Magistrates Court charged with money laundering and deception offences.

Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Mike Tolson told the court it was anticipated hundreds more charges would be laid.

The court heard businesses and organisations had been hacked for staff data – including names, addresses and birthdates – that was then used to set up “hundreds” of bank accounts where money was deposited.

“All of the stolen identity has come from intruding upon businesses,” he told the court.

Senior Sergeant Tolson said multiple cryptocurrency accounts had also been used to launder more than $18 million dollars.

“Current investigations … are still underway to identify and locate the proceeds and distribution of the cryptocurrencies,” he said.

“However, one of the wallets that has been identified alone contains more than $18 million in transactions … and multiple withdrawal accounts.”

The prosecutor said officers seized electronic devices from the pair’s Seaton address in January.

He said police had since confiscated nine computers, their hard-drives and six mobile phones.

An application for bail has been adjourned until next week.

The accused were arrested by SA Police’s Cybercrime Investigation Section detectives in a joint investigation with the NSW Cybercrime Squad.

Searches were conducted in the Adelaide suburbs of Brompton, Somerton Park and in Sydney’s Newtown and Erskineville.

SA Police Cybercrime Investigations Section officer in charge Detective Senior Sergeant Adam Serafini said the alleged crimes were “sophisticated and complex”.

“Cybercrime and this investigation in particular presented unique challenges for law enforcement who were able to tackle this issue collaboratively with law enforcement and industry partners,” he said.

“This investigation is an excellent example of police working together to ensure that cybercrimes which are committed across our state and territory borders will be thoroughly investigated by law enforcement.”

NSW Police Force Cybercrime Squad commander Detective Superintendent Matthew Craft said it was a timely reminder for individuals and businesses to have strong cybersecurity measures in place.

“Identity information is a valuable commodity on the black market and dark web, and anyone who stores this data needs to ensure it is protected,” Superintendent Craft said.

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