Fraud investigation leads to child abuse material charges

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A Sydney man has been charged for allegedly possessing more than 3,500 images and videos of child abuse material.

The man, 40, came to police attention during a Taskforce Integrity investigation, Operation Bonito. Taskforce Integrity is a partnership between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Services Australia targeting fraud and identity crime.

AFP and Services Australia investigators executed two search warrants in the Sydney suburbs of Rooty Hill and Mt Druitt in February, 2022 as part of the fraud investigation. Police seized evidence including documents and electronic devices.

It will be alleged that during a forensic examination of the devices police found more than 3,500 images and videos of child abuse material.  

The man was arrested today (18 July, 2022) at Hassall Grove by AFP Taskforce Integrity investigators and NSW Police officers from the Mt Druitt Proactive Crime Team.

He was charged with:

  • one count of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
  • one count of using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for these offences is 15 years’ imprisonment.

AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Rachel Ball said AFP investigators are adaptive and will follow the evidence wherever it leads to help secure prosecutions and protect the community.

“We have not ruled out the possibility of additional charges and arrests as part of the ongoing fraud investigation,” Det. Acting Supt. Ball said.

The man is due to appear before Mt Druitt Local Court this afternoon.

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation is driving a collaborative national approach to combatting child abuse.

The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

Members of the public who have information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.accce.gov.au/report. If you know abuse is happening right now or a child is at risk, call police immediately on 000.

Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 revealed only about half of parents talked to their children about online safety.

An award-winning podcast launched last year by the ACCCE 'Closing The Net' is working to change that, showcasing that knowledge is power and that our only chance to help prevent this issue is if we bring a 'whole-of-community' response.

The podcast series offers valuable tips and advice on how to keep kids safe online. Listen to the Closing The Net podcast on your favourite streaming platform.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available at www.accce.gov.au/support.

Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protect children online can be found at www.thinkuknow.org.au, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

Note to media:

Use of term 'CHILD ABUSE' MATERIAL NOT 'CHILD PORNOGRAPHY'

The correct legal term is Child Abuse Material – the move to this wording was among amendments to Commonwealth legislation in 2019 to more accurately reflect the gravity of the crimes and the harm inflicted on victims.

Use of the phrase "child pornography" is inaccurate and benefits child sex abusers because it:

  • indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and
  • conjures images of children posing in 'provocative' positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.

Every photograph or video captures an actual situation where a child has been abused.

Media enquiries

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

If it doesn't add up, speak up. Call the National Security Hotline - 1800 123 400.

Read the AFP Annual Report 2020-21

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation - visit website

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