Drug traffickers targeting online job seekers

Queensland Police, the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force are warning the community to be vigilant online, following investigations identifying criminals are using social media to recruit people to unknowingly act as drug couriers.

A multi-agency investigation has identified several Queensland residents have been approached online about ‘courier roles’ or similar jobs after criminal drug syndicates have created fake online profiles and infiltrated ‘work wanted’ pages on social media platforms to advertise to unsuspecting job seekers.

Investigators are warning that international drug syndicates are turning to social media platforms to recruit job hunters, to unknowingly receive, store or transport international packages containing illicit drugs. In one failed drug smuggling attempt, investigators stopped a Brisbane man who thought he had accepted an online job offer delivering packages for a construction company from transporting 2 kilograms of methylamphetamine concealed in an international parcel. The man had been approached after posting a work wanted ad online and was offered $250 for each delivery.

Detective Inspector Brad Phelps from the Drug and Serious Crime Group said while investigators work with national and international partners to target offshore drug traffickers, community vigilance is a key prevention measure.

“This trend is not unique to Queensland and highlights criminals will do whatever they can for their own financial gain, including preying on vulnerable people without any regard for the consequences those found transporting drugs may face, including being investigated by police.

“While police are continuing to work jointly with law enforcement partners and social media companies to prevent this offending and to stop drugs being brought into our communities, we urge the public to stay alert to these approaches and take measures to protect against them,” Detective Inspector Phelps said.

AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Crime Northern Command, Ben Moses said the AFP and partners will be relentless in disrupting all levels of the drug trade and stopping anyone who tries to profit at the expense of the Queensland community.

“These cases show that no matter how criminals try to conceal or move their drugs – we will outsmart them,” he said.

“Regardless of how couriers are recruited, the outcome is similar – organised crime syndicates discard these people when they are no longer useful, these criminals do not care who they hurt as they line their pockets.”

ABF Commander Pam Radin said the combined efforts of law enforcement agencies across Australia was proving highly effective at combatting this type of behaviour – and that the community needed to be aware of the relevant penalties of being involved.

“Strong penalties exist for involvement in drug trafficking. We want to work with, and educate, the community before it comes to that, so that people are aware of the dangers to themselves and to others. The ABF will continue its resolute efforts to detect and deter illegal import attempts,” Commander Radin said.

Investigators are encouraging the community to stay vigilant by:

  • Researching any potential employer by conducting your own background checks to ensure their details and offer are legitimate and lawful. Conduct your own independent checks such as verifying the organisation’s contact details, website and checking their ABN if based in Australia. A reverse image search of a profile picture can also be a useful research tool.
  • Being cautious if the person or business offering employment is based overseas as it makes it harder to check if they are legitimate.
  • Being wary of anyone offering easy or lucrative money for minimal effort or little or no experience required.
  • Being wary of a person asking online for bank account details, drivers licence or other personal information – do not provide it.
  • Discussing the job opportunity with family or friends before applying.

If you have been the victim of a cybercrime, you can report this online at ReportCyber.

Screen shot of job ad on social media

Drugs concealed in large photo frame in front of the ABF sign

Photo of two large canvas religious prints in front of the ABF sign

Contents of the box which contained a number of religious items in front of the ABF sign

Photo of the box with an invoice sticker in front of the ABF sign

If you have information for police, contact Policelink by providing information using the online suspicious activity form 24hrs per day at www.police.qld.gov.au/reporting.

Report crime information anonymously via Crime Stoppers. Call 1800 333 000 or report online at www.crimestoppersqld.com.au.

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