AUSTRAC information was used to verify the identities of an organised crime syndicate undertaking credit card fraud. A number of suspicious matter reports also assisted authorities to unravel the group's illicit financial activities.
Two members of the syndicate were charged with fraud-related offences. One was sentenced to two years and three months imprisonment and the other to 12 months imprisonment.
A Melbourne-based Asian organised crime syndicate operated a company arranging for overseas students to migrate to Australia. This company was also used to facilitate a credit card shopping fraud scheme.The syndicate recruited Malaysian nationals with significant gambling debts to assist in fraudulently purchasing high-value portable goods which could be resold easily.
The syndicate used false identity documents to create fake identities for the recruits. These documents were either fraudulently produced or were genuine documents obtained in false names. The false identities were used to obtain legitimate identity documents – for example, drivers licences – which were then used to set up bank accounts and apply for bank loans.
The syndicate provided the recruits with fraudulently obtained items such as credit cards. The recruits were then taken to several shopping centres around Australia to purchase portable high-value goods such as laptops, navigation devices, personal music devices, jewellery, department store gift cards and premium alcohol. The recruits provided the goods to the syndicate who on-sold the items to unwitting third parties for cash. The recruits were given a portion of the proceeds to pay off personal gambling debts.
AUSTRAC information was used by authorities to verify identities used by the syndicate and to identify related international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs). A number of suspicious matter reports (SMRs) also assisted authorities to unravel the group's illicit financial activities. AUSTRAC analysis and law enforcement investigations suggested that syndicate members used a portion of their criminal proceeds to purchase property, while other funds were laundered through Australian casinos.
One SMR submitted by a casino revealed that a member of the syndicate had converted AUD32,000 of gaming chips for cash, providing a casino identity card that was not linked to any 'rated play' (gambling activity), at the casino.
Further investigation by the casino found that the same person had previously supplied a different casino identity card for other transactions on the same day. Significant cash transaction reports (SCTRs) submitted to AUSTRAC also linked the syndicate member to four other gaming chip cash-outs totalling AUD59,000 over a 14-month period. The cash-outs were either conducted on the same day, or in the same week.
Two members of the syndicate were charged with fraud-related offences. One was sentenced to two years and three months imprisonment and the other to 12 months.
Case 13 - Crime syndicate recruited Malaysian nationals for major credit card fraud