Five charged as part of ongoing investigations into $4.7 million business email compromise scam

NSW Police have charged five men as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged $4.7 million business email compromise scam syndicate targeting Australian businesses.

In September 2019, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Cybercrime Squad established Strike Force Belltree to investigate a criminal syndicate targeting businesses across the country through email scams.

Their inquiries revealed that altered invoices had been sent to legitimate businesses for payment through an email scam, before the funds were transferred into personal accounts.

So far during the investigation, eight people have been charged and remain before the courts.

As part of ongoing inquiries, officers from Campsie and Cumberland Police Area Commands also commenced investigations into reports of cyber-enabled fraudulent activity.

Following those investigations, detectives from the Cybercrime Squad, together with officers from Campsie and Cumberland Police Area Commands, executed three search warrants at homes at Chester Hill, Schofields and Roselands from 8am today (Thursday 25 June 2020).

Investigators were also assisted throughout the operation by Quakers Hills Police Area Command and Bass Hill Region Enforcement Squad.

During the searches, detectives seized mobile phones, computers, electronic storage devices and documentation.

All items seized will undergo forensic examination.

A 21-year-old man was arrested at Chester Hill and taken to Granville Police Station, where he was charged with participate in criminal group contribute to criminal activity, seven counts of knowingly deal with proceeds of crime intent to conceal, and knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.

Police will allege in court that the man was involved in the scam syndicate and dealt with proceeds of crime to the value of more than $1.8 million.

He was refused bail to appear at Parramatta Local Court today (Thursday 25 June 2020), where he was formally refused bail to reappear at the same court tomorrow (Friday 26 June 2020).

A 36-year-old man was arrested at Liverpool and taken to Liverpool Police Station, where he was charged with participate in criminal group contribute to criminal activity and two counts of knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.

Police will allege in court that the man was involved in the scam syndicate and dealt with proceeds of crime to the value of more than $338,000.

He was refused bail to appear at Liverpool Local Court today, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at the same court on Monday 29 June 2020.

A 25-year-old man was arrested at Schofields and taken to Riverstone Police Station, where he was charged with participate in criminal group contribute to criminal activity, three counts of knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, six counts of recklessly deal with proceeds of crime and possess identity info to commit etc indictable offence.

Police will allege in court that the man was involved in the scam syndicate and dealt with proceeds of crime to the value of more than $423,000.

The man was refused bail to appear at Blacktown Local Court tomorrow (Friday 26 June 2020).

Two men – aged 19 and 21 – were arrested at the Roselands home and taken to Campsie Police Station.

The younger man was charged with participate in criminal group contribute to criminal activity and two counts of knowingly deal with proceeds of crime with intent to conceal.

The older man was charged with participate in criminal group contribute to criminal activity and knowingly deal with proceeds of crime with intent to conceal.

Police will allege in court that the men were involved in the scam syndicate and dealt with proceeds of crime to the value of more than $1.6 million.

Both men were granted strict conditional bail to appear at Burwood Local Court on Tuesday 28 July 2020.

Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Matthew Craft, said cybercriminals scamming everyday Aussies out of their hard-earned cash have been warned.

“This has been a lengthy and complex investigation by Strike Force Belltree detectives, who have now charged 13 individuals with serious offences,” Det Supt Craft said.

“Through these results, Strike Force Belltree detectives have demonstrated the commitment of the NSW Police Force in identifying those who engage in this conduct and fund their lifestyles solely from business email compromise scams.

“These arrests serve as a timely reminder, that if you financially benefit through illicit means – including through online activities – you will be brought before the courts.

“In addition, those who receive funds from an unknown source into their bank accounts are warned that they can commit criminal offences if not reported to police – and investigators are trained to always follow the money.

“The NSW Police Force regularly partner with financial institutions when assessing and investigating matters of this nature.

“While it is of great concern that these individuals would target hard-working Australians and deceive them out of their own cash, particularly during these already very difficult and stressful economic times, the community can rest assured that police will continue to target those that seek to profit from these cyber-scams,” Det Supt Craft said.

Investigations under Strike Force Belltree are continuing.

Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Belltree detectives 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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