Police charge two men with attacking police telephone systems

hand holding handcuffs

This is a joint media release by the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police

Two Victorian men are facing charges arising from large-scale automated denial of service-style attacks allegedly committed against Australian government infrastructure, including police telephone systems.

The joint Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victoria Police investigation commenced in November 2018 after a wave of telephone system attacks in October last year. Police allege a large volume of automated attacks occurred, and involved cold-calling numbers with the intention of tying up police phone lines, interrupting incoming or outgoing calls.

Search warrants were executed this morning at three Bendigo premises involving officers from the AFP’s Cybercrime Operations and the Victoria Police E-Crime Squad assisted by members of the AFP’s Specialist Response Group and Victoria Police Special Operations Group.

It will be alleged a 28-year-old Bendigo man was the organiser of the scheme. He has been charged with:

  • Unauthorised access to data held in a computer, contrary to section 477.1 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth.) and punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment
  • Using a carriage service to make a threat to cause serious harm, contrary to section 474.15(2) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth.) and punishable by up to seven years imprisonment
  • Using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence, contrary to section 474.17 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth.) and punishable by up to three years
  • Dishonestly obtaining or dealing with personal financial information, contrary to section 480.4 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth.) and punishable by up to five years imprisonment
  • Sabotage, contrary to section 247K of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) and punishable by up to 25 years imprisonment

The 28-year-old is remanded in custody and scheduled to face the Bendigo Magistrates Court on Monday 17 June 2019.

Police have also charged a second Bendigo man, aged 27, with three firearms offences:

  • Possessing an unregistered firearm contrary to section 6A of the Firearms Act 1996.

The 27-year-old was granted bail and is scheduled to appear before court on 8 August 2019.

AFP acting Commander Cybercrime Operations, Chris Goldsmid said the seriousness of the alleged offending cannot be understated.

“Each occasion a police phone line was unavailable as result of these malicious attacks meant members of the public were unable to access a vital service. This had serious implications for the broader community,” Acting Commander Goldsmid said.

“Some of the attacks included a spate of text messages asking for emergency assistance. People who called the number back reported being verbally abused by a recording on the other end. This created fear, distress and anxiety amongst some of the most vulnerable in our community.

He said the joint investigative work undertaken by officers from both agencies to disrupt the brazen offending had been exceptional.

“It is yet another example of the excellent results achieved when the resources and capabilities of the commonwealth and states are joined up,” he said.

Officer in charge of Victoria Police’s E-Crime Squad, Detective Acting Inspector Greg Lee said today’s charges were a great result.

“We had a number of police stations in Victoria that were affected, so we know our local communities were directly impacted,” he said.

“Any offences of this nature have the potential to have the most serious of ramifications so it’s incredibly pleasing to be able to charge someone as a result of this joint investigation.”

The investigation remains ongoing.

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