Detectives lay 59 additional charges over romance scams uncovered during $9 million fraud investigation

Detectives have laid an additional 59 charges against a woman, after uncovering a sophisticated romance scam during an investigation into an alleged $9 million fraud and money laundering syndicate targeting the Thai-Australian community across NSW.

In August 2018, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad established Strike Force McKeon to investigate reports of fraud and money laundering.

In February this year, investigators arrested a 27-year-old Thai woman who allegedly claimed to be a registered remitter and used social media to advertise inflated rates for exchanging money. She was charged and remains before the courts.

As part of ongoing investigations, Strike Force McKeon detectives uncovered a sophisticated romance scam, where a number of men were allegedly defrauded after connecting with a woman through online dating platforms.

Following extensive investigations, detectives charged the woman with an additional 26 offences related to the alleged romance scam at Burwood Local Court on Wednesday 20 May 2020.

The charges included 25 counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage or cause disadvantage by deception and deal with identification information to commit an indictable offence.

She was refused bail to appear at Burwood Local Court today (Wednesday 17 June 2020).

Following further inquiries, investigators laid an additional 33 charges against the woman in court today.

The charges include 23 counts of deal with identification information to commit an indictable offence, seven counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage or cause disadvantage by deception, two counts of dishonestly obtain property by deception and knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.

Police will allege in court that the woman obtained over $670,000 through a sophisticated romance scam – where she falsely claimed to be studying to become a doctor, a lawyer and a pilot – while also running a business trading in designer handbags.

It will be further alleged the woman obtained personal financial information from the men she met online to apply for loans and credit cards.

The 27-year-old woman also allegedly used the personal details of a man to register a business with the purpose of applying for further personal loans and conducting other fraudulent activity.

The woman is now facing a total of 62 charges relating to an alleged $9.7 million fraud and money laundering syndicate, and romance scam relating to three victims.

She remains bail refused and is next due to appear at Burwood Local Court on Wednesday 12 August 2020.

Investigations under Strike Force McKeon are continuing.

Anyone with information in relation to technology-enabled crime is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence.

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