Nine arrested after investigation into fraudulent money transfers overseas, NSW

Detectives have arrested nine men following an investigation into more than $2 million in suspicious electronic money transfers across the Greater Sydney metropolitan area.

In October 2021, detectives attached to the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad established Strike Force Beswick, to investigate a criminal syndicate allegedly laundering the proceeds of crime overseas.

It’s alleged the syndicate transferred more than $2.4 million through about 475 electronic money transfers, creating accounts using fraudulent identity documents.

Following inquiries, a 24-year-old Wiley Park man was arrested at Sydney International Airport about 9.30pm yesterday (Monday 20 June 2022).

He was taken to Mascot Police Station and charged with deal with property proceeds of crime more than $100,000 and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity. He was refused bail to appear at Central Local Court later today (Tuesday 21 June 2022).

Following further inquiries, strike force detectives – assisted by Public Order and Riot Squad officers, North West Metropolitan Region and Australian Border Force – executed two search warrants at premises at Sydney Olympic Park about 6am today.

A 26-year-old man was arrested and taken to Burwood Police Station, where he has been charged with six offences including knowingly/recklessly direct a criminal group assist crime, knowingly deal with proceeds of crime intent to conceal, deal with identity information to commit indictable offence, and deal with property proceeds of crime more than $100,000.

Three other men – aged 22, 23 and 27 – were arrested and taken to Auburn Police Station, where all three were charged with several offences, including participate in a criminal group contribute criminal activity, knowingly deal with proceeds of crime intent to conceal, and deal with the proceeds of crime.

All four were bail refused to appear at Burwood Local Court today.

A 23-year-old man was arrested and taken to Burwood Police Station, where he is currently assisting police with their inquiries.

A further three men – all aged 24 – were arrested at a Punchbowl address about 12.20pm today.

They were all taken to Campsie Police Station, where they are expected to be charged later today.

Police will allege in court the men targeted people through cold-call phone scams, before transferring the funds overseas through fraudulent bank accounts.

All nine men are currently on student visas; the matter of each man’s visa status has been referred to the Department of Home Affairs.

Investigations under Strike Force Beswick are continuing, with police expecting to make further arrests.

Financial Crime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett, said strike force investigators are conducting active inquiries to locate other persons involved in the syndicate and urged members of the public to be vigilant when receiving cold calls from unknown numbers

“Currently, detectives are searching for several other outstanding targets as part of Strike Force Beswick. My message to those people would be to attend your nearest police station and assist police with our inquiries,” Detective Superintendent Howlett said.

“These scam artists cold-call landlines and mobiles claiming to be from a well-known business or government agencies and then demand some type of payment, often requesting it through money transfer or gift card.

“There is not one government agency – nor legitimate business – in Australia that would request payment via these methods.

“A scammer may also ask for personal information to verify who you are, and I can’t stress strongly enough that no one should ever provide this information.

“The most important advice we provide is to simply hang up.

“Once a scammer has your personal information, it can be used to take over your identity to access your finances.

“If you receive a call that raises concerns – or you doubt the legitimacy of their claims – hang up and contact that relevant institution yourself.”

Anyone who believes they may have been scammed is urged to contact local police.

Police urge members of the public to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of being scammed by cold callers:

  • Never provide your personal or banking details to a person who cold calls you;
  • Be careful what personal information you provide over the phone, even if you are the person who made the call;
  • Never provide your financial PIN or account passwords over the phone;
  • If you have been cold called on a landline and are concerned the line has been compromised, check that the line is free by calling someone you know or use a different phone to make further calls;
  • If you are suspicious about the credentials of a person on the phone, ask questions – what’s their street address, telephone number, Australian Financial Services Number – if they avoid answering then it could be a scam;
  • Never transfer funds to a person or an account you do not know.

Anyone with information that may assist strike force investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.

/Public Release. View in full here.