Today, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), announced that a woman aged 24 from Melbourne was sentenced for participating in large-scale cyber-enabled identity theft.
On November 26, 2021, the woman pleaded guilty.
The AFT claims that she was part of an international criminal syndicate involved in cybercrimes, stealing $3.3 million and laundering $2.5 million.
These figures were not all that the criminals tried to take from their victims.
The AFP arrested and searched the residence of the 21-year-old woman as part of Operation Birks, a codenamed investigation.
Additional investigations using files seized from devices showed that the suspect had been purchasing stolen identities on the dark internet, fraudulently registered SIM card numbers, and used spoofed emails accounts to perform an ‘identity theft’.
These identities were used by the crooks to open more than 60 accounts at Australian banks. Then, they stole the money from victims’ superannuation accounts (Australian retirement program that a company sets up for its employees).
The gang made use of phishing sites hosted on typosquatted domains, which were malvertised to increase their Google Search ranking.
“The offender created a cloned site that mimicked the website of a superannuation trust using a domain name almost identical to that of the legit website,” .
To promote the website, online advertisements were placed to get it at the top of Google’s search engine. It was intended to steal usernames and passwords from members who visited the cloned site (or ‘phishing’). To gain unauthorized access to members accounts, the stolen member information was used. – AFP
The woman took the funds from the bank accounts and sent them to Hong Kong to purchase assets more difficult to track (e.g. Luxury products were then resold.
To minimize any chance of money being left behind, some of the laundering amounts were returned to Australia in cryptocurrency.
The AFP reports that most victims were unaware their identity had been stolen, and they could not defend themselves against fraud.