Two Victorians charged for using defrauding technology to scam Australians

Two Victorians have been charged following an international investigation into a website selling fraud enabling technology responsible for more than $1,000 000 stolen from Australian victims.

Operation Stonefish was launched in August 2022 after authorities in the United Kingdom began an investigation into a website that offered a multitude of spoofing services, for as little as £20 British Pounds.

Once subscribed the site enabled users to make fraudulent robo-calls including sending One-Time-Pins and other services designed to make the call seem legitimate to the victims.

Information received from the UK Metropolitan Police identified two Australian users and further police enquiries by the AFP linked those details to the two individuals.

Search warrants were executed in Boronia, Brighton and Brookfield where electronic devices, including mobile phones, computers and tablets, fake licenses, bank cards and Medicare cards and small amounts of illicit drugs were located. A forensic analysis of the seized devices will be conducted and further charges have not been ruled out.

The AFP will continue to work with UK authorities on identifying victims of the site and other potential users residing in Australia.

AFP Constable Josh Simpson said an analysis of the website had revealed Australia was a popular target country for users of the website.

“We are increasingly seeing cybercrime-as-a-service which means all you need is a computer and an internet connection to defraud innocent victims,” Constable Simpson said.

“The interconnected nature of cybercrime means that working with our international law enforcement partners is vital to identifying perpetrators and putting them before court.”

“Our dedicated cyber liaison officers around the world are able to assist in the takedown of malicious sites and administrators, disrupt illegal marketplaces and scams.”

The Brookfield teenager, 16, was arrested on 9 November and was granted bail at Melton Police station, and the Boronia man, 30, was arrested on 10 November and was granted bail at Boronia Police station. Both were charged with:

  • Produce false or misleading documents contrary to section 137 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (Cth); and
  • Person with knowledge of a computer or a computer system to assist access etc, contrary to section 3LA of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

The Brookfield teenager will face court again on 8 December 2022, and the Boronia man will face court against on 1 February 2023.

If found guilty they could face up to 10 years in jail.

Cyber tips

If you receive a call that you think is a scam or fraud, don’t respond to the demands or follow the message prompts to call back. Disconnect the call and find the agency’s listed contact number on their website and call them directly.

Scammers take advantage of people’s trust in authorities and fear of doing the wrong thing. Victims can feel an array of emotions – from helplessness and humiliation to anger and guilt – but it is important to know you are not to blame and help is available.

If you are a victim of cybercrime you can report to police using Report Cyber at cyber.gov.au.

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