NSW Police arrested six men this week for their alleged involvement in a cyber scam and money laundering syndicate believed to be worth $6 million.
Police executed warrants across Sydney as part of the operation, seizing mobile phones, computers, hard drives, a gun, and drugs while making their arrests.
“Police will allege in court that the syndicate dealt with over $6 million, obtained unlawfully from Australian busineses through business email compromise scams and online romance scams between April 2019 to February 2020,” NSW Police said in a statement.
“It will be alleged that altered invoices were sent to legitimate businesses for payment through an email scam, before the funds were transferred into personal accounts.
“Further funds were allegedly obtained online through fake dating profiles and accounts, where the alleged scammer posed as a romantic prospect.”
The arrested men, aged between 26 and 35, were all charged with multiple counts of participating in a criminal group and offences relating to money laundering.
Detectives arrest a 34-year-old man in Liverpool on Wednesday morning. Image: Supplied
The relevant money laundering offences carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment while low level participation in criminal group offences have a maximum sentence of 5 years.
One of the men was also charged for possessing an unregistered pistol.
$210 million in cyber scams over 12 months
The latest arrests are part of a string of operations conducted by NSW Police this year.
Police arrested a man in February for his alleged involvement in a $11 million identity fraud scheme, before picking up another two men in April for running a business email compromise scam ring.
But while law enforcement is making progress catching the scammers, Australians continue to fall victim to costly scams.
Business email compromise scams are by far the most expensive for Australians and performed by scammers who monitor victims’ email activity in order to divert invoice payments to their bank accounts.
This scam has been used recently to defraud a community ice rink in Sydney and even steal $4.7 million from a Dutch art museum.
The ACCC estimates Australians lost a whopping $132 million from this type of scam in 2019 alone.
Deputy chair of the ACCC, Mick Keogh, said people needed to stay vigilant for scam attempts.
“Scammers are increasingly using email scams to target businesses of all sizes,” he said.
“It is important to have strong processes in place for verifying and paying accounts and businesses should ensure their systems have up-to-date anti-virus software.”
Sadly, scammers like the alleged who were arrested by NSW Police this week, have been finding more success preying on people’s loneliness with romance and dating scams.
Around $83 million was lost through these scams last year with women being affected more than men, according to the ACCC.
The ACCC recommends that you never send money to people you have only met on social media, and for you to run image searches of pictures sent through dating apps because scammers regularly steal photos from the internet to fake their identity.
If you think you have spotted a scam, report it to the ACCC’s Scamwatch. To report a cyber crime, head to the Report Cyber website or contact police assistance on 131 444.