NSW Police arrested a man on Wednesday for his involvement in an alleged $11 million identity fraud scheme.
The 31-year-old, previously from Adelaide, was allegedly involved in using the personal information of around 80 people to change payroll, superannuation, and credit card information to move millions of dollars into fraudulent bank accounts.
Officers arrested the man at the Green Square library in Sydney before raiding two homes in Newtown and Erskineville in the state’s inner western suburbs where they seized computers, phones, cryptocurrency, and drugs.
The man is facing a litany of charges that include 12 counts of dealing identification information – a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Two of the man’s alleged accomplices were also arrested by South Australian Police in Adelaide on Wednesday for their part in laundering the ill-gotten money.
The latest arrests come only months after a Melbourne woman was charged for her involvement in a $10 million superannuation scam.
In that instance, a criminal syndicate used identification documents bought on the dark web to withdraw money from the super accounts of unsuspecting Australians.
Detectives escort the alleged Sydney cybercriminal on Wednesday. Source: NSW Police
Commander of the NSW Police Cybercrime Squad, Matthew Craft, said identity information is becoming increasingly valuable for cybercriminals.
“During the course of this investigation, more than 80 individual personal and financial profiles have been identified as being obtained for the purpose of committing fraud,” Craft.
“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.
“Anyone who believes their identity has been compromised online is urged to contact their financial institution and police.”
The lucrative dark web trade of personal identification information has added extra scrutiny to organisations that inadvertently leak privately held data.
Medicare came under fire late last year after freedom of information requests revealed that former Australian Federal Police commissioners had their Medicare numbers put up for sale on the dark web.
A review of Medicare numbers had previously found that the numbers are “an important component of Australia’s proof of identity processes” – meaning the otherwise innocuous numbers have the potential to be used for fraud.
Westpac and the New Payments Platform have also been caught out for accidentally allowing people to cross-check names and mobile phone numbers en masse.
The government is trying to tighten loose regulations that make it easier for personally identifying information to get into nefarious hands.
In October, Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, directed the Australian Communications and Media Authority to build a phone porting verification standard to combat scammers who use fraudulently ported phone numbers in identity theft operations.
If you are a victim of identity theft, you can contact IDCARE on 1300 432 273 to access support services.