A dark web fraud and identity theft scheme which targeted people in Sydney, have led to the arrest of three people in Australia. According to the NSW Police, the dark web scheme also affected people in Adelaide, Victoria, Tasmania, and other cities in Australia. Initial reports suggested that arrested culprits allegedly started the dark web identity theft scheme in the early stages of last year in South Australia and then spread their wings from Sydney to many other locations in the country in mid-August. It was however revealed later by the NSW police that, the fraud and identity theft scheme had been going on for over 10 years.

The Trio, according to reports from the NSW police, stole the identities and personal information as well as other private financial detail of over 80 people, with most of their victims residing in Sydney. The identity fraud scheme also allegedly raked in $11 million in proceeds which were a result of emptying bank accounts, using private financial information to make transactions on behalf of their victims and other illegal activities.

Sydney

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The alleged mastermind of the group, a 31-year-old Adam Jones was arrested by officers of the NSW Police at a Green Square library in Sydney. His laptop, mobile phone, other electronics and a $64,000 Mercedes-Benz, were seized by the police officers. Police officers also uncovered over 100 digital document folders of which each one of them had names of individuals as well as businesses. Each of the digital document folders also contained a combination of private and personal information including tax returns, driver’s license, passport, addresses, payslips, high-value super funds and Australian Medicare claims which he obtained on several marketplaces on the dark web.

Mr. Jones according to the NSW police, used the private details contained in the digital documents to create personalized emails, phone numbers and bank accounts in the names of his victims. The newly created accounts were then used in place of the old accounts for the redirection of payroll payments and invoices from the real accounts. Mr. Jones allegedly did that legitimately to avoid any suspicions. The 31-year-old in other instances also allegedly combined legitimate super funds into bogus funds he had created, pretending to be the victim.

Mr. Jones, in one case, allegedly tied to transfer $1.1 million from the super fund account of one of his victims in Sydney but was unsuccessful as his attempt was caught and stopped by authorities. Reports from investigators stated that he had already drained the accounts of some of his victims, including their entire savings, before being flagged trying to transfer the $1.1 million. The defendant in another instance also allegedly tried to open a cryptocurrency account by using a photoshopped selfie of an unknown female to bypass the proof of identity. In other cases, Mr. Jones also forged signatures of his victims and tried to undertake financial activities in their name.

Police officers later executed search warrants on the homes of two other suspects and arrested a 28-year-old woman in Newton, and a 32-year-old man in Seaton, a suburb of Adelaide. The police also uncovered and seized additional mobile phones, laptops, desktop computers, stolen identification documents, other electronic devices, details on Superannuation funds, liquid steroids, and other controlled substances and an online cryptocurrency wallet.

The dark web identity theft scheme came to light after Cybercrime Squad detectives uncovered many fraudulent bank accounts and compromised payroll data in New South Wales and South Australia. The NSW police began an official investigation into the fraudulent activities and were led to the dark web scheme.

Sydney

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Mr. Jones was taken to the Newtown Police station after his arrest and was subsequently charged with 24 offenses including 12 counts of using personal identifying information to commit an indictable offense and two counts of using a false document to obtain financial advantage. Further charges, according to the NSW police are expected. Investigators revealed that identity theft and fraud cases are common in their line of work but this particular dark web scheme was unique concerning the extent at which these fraudsters were able to gather such information. The NSW police also revealed that they believe the dark web scheme resulted in more than the reported $11 million in criminal proceeds as the whole operation was calculated and sophisticated. The other two culprits arrested later were also charged with deception and money laundering offenses.

The defendant allegedly blew the money he stole on sports betting, shopping, and at least six luxurious vacations overseas every year. He lived with his partner and was with her when he was arrested by the police. Mr. Jones was denied bail and is scheduled to appear in court on April 2, 2020.

NSW Cybercrime Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Matthew Craft speaking after the arrest stated that cybercrime presents a difficult challenge for law enforcement, the only way to go at it is a through a collaboration with the various law enforcement agencies in the country as it is now a national crisis. Detective Superintendent Craft revealed that dark web identity theft and fraud cost the nation over $2.2 billion last year alone and advised citizens to understand the value of their identity. He added that this investigation is a clear example of what the country will achieve as a result of a collaboration between the various law enforcement agencies in the country.

Source: 9new


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