A 25-year-old Sydney IT contractor has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for cyber fraud after he defrauded companies of more than $66,000 through his access to the Australian National Maritime Museum’s systems.

Andrew Beck was sentenced by the Sydney Central Local Court last Friday after he was found guilty of one count each of unauthorised access and modification with intent to commit a serious computer offence, dishonestly obtaining or dealing in personal financial information, and dishonestly obtaining property by deception.

Beck was working as a contract IT support worker for a company contracted by Sydney’s Maritime Museum.

He used this position to illegally access the museum’s accounts payable system and change bank account details for dozens of companies and individuals to his own.

He also unlawfully obtained the financial details of several individuals and businesses in the museum’s system that had booked corporate spaces and used these to make fraudulent purchases, including $20,000 on “high-powered IT equipment” and more than $15,000 on upgrades to a car.

In total, the Macquarie Park IT worker stole more than $66,000 through his role offering tech support to the museum through a third-party, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said.

Judge Pauline David said Beck’s offending was not impulsive and that he had shown an “attitude of disobedience to the law”, but that he had reasonable prospects of rehabilitation.

“This man exploited his trusted position of employment to fraudulently access and spend thousands of dollars belonging to others for his own benefit,” AFP Detective Superintendent Tim Stainton said.

“The greedy behaviour in this matter came at the expense of hard-working Australian individuals and business owners.”

The Maritime Museum first detected irregularities in its accounts in November 2022, and reported this to the AFP.

The AFP Eastern Command Cybercrime Operations identified the man in question, who was arrested in March last year.

He has now been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail, with a non-parole period of 15 months.

Cybercrime crackdown

The arrest came after the AFP launched the Joint Policing Cybercrime Coordination Centre in March 2022 in response to rising cyber crime across Australia.

Police around the country have been ramping up efforts in recent years to tackle cyber crime and the use of tech to fraudulently obtain or steal money.

Earlier this year, a man appeared in court accused of sending more than 17 million scam text messages pretending to be from large companies such as Australia Post and Linkt, after he was arrested in December in connection to the phishing scam.

It was also revealed this year that about 150 Australian Taxation Office staff had been investigated over a GST fraud scheme that was promoted on TikTok.

These investigations led to the termination, administrative action, or criminal prosecution of 12 individuals.

The scam led to the payment of at least $2 billion in fraudulent tax refunds, with the tax office estimating more than 57,000 perpetrators of GST fraud from April 2022 to 30 June 2023.

And in 2020, a Sydney man was arrested for his alleged involvement in an $11 million identity fraud scheme that saw the personal information of about 80 people used to modify payroll, superannuation and credit card information to move millions of dollars into fraudulent bank accounts.

The federal government recently claimed that its ongoing war against scams is providing results, pointing to statistics revealing that the amount Australians have lost to these cons has almost halved in the last year.

The National Anti-Scams Centre’s second quarterly report revealed Australians lost $82 million to scams from October to December 2023, a drop of 26 per cent from the previous quarter and decline of 43 per cent year-on-year.