Police charge two over $2.6 million scam syndicate targeting Australian businesses

Cybercrime Squad detectives have charged two men as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged $2.6 million email 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.

Last year, detectives charged two women and a man – all aged 30 – in relation to the investigation. They remain before the courts.

Following further inquiries, strike force investigators, with assistance from Operation ODIN and South West Metropolitan Region Enforcement Squad, executed two search warrants at a unit in Zetland and a home in South Wentworthville from 7am yesterday (Thursday 2 March 2020).

During the searches, officers seized $5000 cash, computers, mobile phones, documentation and prohibited drugs.

Police seized a further $7500 USD cash, equivalent to almost $12,400 AUD.

A 29-year-old man was arrested at Zetland and taken to Mascot Police Station, where he was charged with 12 offences including;

  • knowingly direct activities of criminal group,
  • knowingly deal with proceeds of crime intent to conceal (x6),
  • attempt knowingly deal with proceeds of crime intent to conceal (x4), and
  • knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.

Police will allege in court that the man directed an online cyber-fraud and money laundering syndicate targeting Australian businesses.

It will be further alleged the man netted more than $1.6 million and attempted to obtain a further $997,000 – totalling more than $2.6 million – through email scams and altered invoices between July 2018 and January 2020.

The man appeared at Central Local Court yesterday, where he was formally refused bail to re-appear at the same court on Thursday 11 June 2020.

A short time later, Strike Force Belltree investigators arrested a 30-year-old man at a home on Rosebery Avenue, Rosebery.

The South Wentworthville man was taken to Mascot Police Station and charged with 14 offences including;

  • knowingly deal with proceeds of crime (x12),
  • participate criminal group contribute criminal activity, and
  • possess prohibited drug.

Police will allege in court that the man was involving in an email scam syndicate and dealt with proceeds of crime worth more than $338,000.

He was refused bail to appear at Central Local Court today (Friday 3 April 2020).

Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Matthew Craft, said detectives have been working tirelessly to disrupt the activities of this syndicate.

“During this investigation, officers uncovered a criminal network targeting hard-working Australian businesses through a series of sophisticated email scams,” Det Supt Craft said.

“Police will allege the group stole money from a range of businesses including those in property development, finance, construction and other trades.

“Victims of cybercrime offences are not limited by state and territory borders and police will allege this syndicate targeted companies right across the country.

“Cybercrime presents a unique challenge for law enforcement, and these arrests are a timely reminder for all individuals and businesses to have strong cyber security measures in place for protection,” Det Supt Craft said.

Investigations under Strike Force Belltree are continuing.

Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Belltree 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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