Detectives believe a “highly sophisticated” criminal network allegedly used a range of successful tactics to fleece millions of dollars out of thousands of unsuspecting people by taking over their identities to either steal directly from their accounts or rack up credit card debt in their names, the Canberra Times reports.
Eleven people were arrested in a series of raids across Sydney on Wednesday as the Identity Security Strike Team, a multi-jurisdictional initiative between NSW Police and Australian Federal Police, swooped following a five-month investigation. On Thursday, the four men and three women were charged.
The amount of paperwork and items allegedly seized during the seven raids was so large, police believe it could take more than six months to contact all of the alleged victims and potential victims.
Included in those arrested was Blacktown woman Kristiane Soqosoqo, a Department of Human Services customer services representative who is now set to face Commonwealth bribery charges.
Detective Superintendent Brett James, the Organised Crime and Cyber coordinator for the Australian Federal Police, said it was alleged she gained access to Australian Government databases to obtain personal information for the syndicate in exchange for cash.
“We believe this was an opportunistic criminal network essentially operating a basic mail theft and phishing scheme where they realised that they had a personal contact and they could leverage off the privileged access to information that person had,” Detective Superintendent James said.
“Two aspects allowed this network to flourish. The access to government information is one but the ease of access to personal information through mail theft and through business and individuals giving away their identities and their personal information over the phone was another.”
Thousands fleeced by sophisticated identity fraud syndicate: police (Canberra Times)