Woman charged with impersonating Commonwealth official as part of ongoing investigation

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A South Australian woman has been charged with impersonating a Commonwealth public official and importing fake Australian Federal Police badges into Australia as part of an ongoing Queensland Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) investigation.

Members of the South Australia JCTT arrested and charged the 49-year-old Peterborough woman yesterday (9 September 2021). She has been remanded in custody to appear on 8 October 2021 in Adelaide Magistrate's Court.

Police will allege the woman was a member of a group that came to police attention as a result of a video circulating through social media channels falsely claiming to be a recording of the AFP Commissioner detailing plans to overthrow the Federal Government and encouraging others to join.

The man speaking in this video is not AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw.

In August, a Perth man was charged as part of the same investigation. The woman’s Peterborough residence was the location of a search warrant as part of this activity.

It will be alleged in court that the woman helped source and facilitate a shipment of fake AFP badges from an overseas manufacturer into Australia, with the consignment addressed to a premises in Cairns. A total of 470 badges, believed to be the vast majority of that consignment, have been recovered by police.

Queensland JCTT investigators have not found an impending threat to community safety, and have yet to find any evidence the group had the ability to carry out acts they had discussed.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Counter Terrorism Scott Lee said yesterday’s arrest serves as a reminder of the seriousness of the alleged offences.

“There is no evidence this group had the ability to carry out specific violent acts, but the Queensland JCTT, with other JCTTs around the country, will continue to investigate people with links to this group and will lay further charges if more criminal offences are identified,” he said.

“Impersonating Commonwealth officials and the potential misuse of AFP badges is something we take very seriously, which is reflected in the ongoing investigation and the action taken today.”

Queensland Police Service Security and Counter Terrorism Command Assistant Commissioner, Debbie Platz stated our agencies continue to work collaboratively not just in investigating and prosecuting offenders but also in the field of prevention and early intervention through responding and disrupting groups like this.

“Working together in the Queensland JCTT ensures we can provide ongoing attention and resources to keep Queenslanders safe,” she said.

The woman has been charged with falsely representing herself to be a commonwealth public official, contrary to section 148.1(2) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth), and of importing a prohibited import, contrary to section 233(1)(b) of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth). The maximum penalty for these offences is two years imprisonment.

The Queensland JCTT is comprised of members of the Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police Service and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The South Australia JCTT is comprised of members of the Australian Federal Police, South Australia Police Service and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

Anyone with information about extremist activity or possible threats to the community should come forward, no matter how small or insignificant you may think the information may be. The National Security Hotline is 1800 123 400.

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