The case studies provided in this report reveal the evolving nature of ML/TF and related criminal conduct.
Many crime syndicates now operate across international borders, posing a direct threat to Australia. The case studies in this report show how Australia, no longer sheltered by its geographical remoteness, is being targeted by crime syndicates from many parts of the world, and how the criminal profits made in Australia are then moved overseas.
Sophisticated criminals are exploiting technology, especially the increased availability of internet-based financial products. The New South Wales Police recently uncovered a scam in which email and SMS were used to elicit between AUD5,000 and AUD8,000 each from the victims. This represents a new variation on phishing scams which attempt to obtain personal information or the payment of money. (2)
The Australian Institute of Criminology has released a paper entitled Future directions in technology-enabled crime: 2007-09, which discusses the effect of technology on globalisation, emerging economies, digital and social networking, and the changing nature of funds transfer systems. The paper details how technology is creating new opportunities for illegal activities, especially fraud, identity crime, computer vandalism, theft of information, online distribution of objectionable material, organised crime and terrorism. (3)
AUSTRAC and its enforcement and regulatory partners must be vigilant to the changing environment and technological advances which can be used to circumvent existing legislation and regulation.
Organised crime - internet
A significant trend emerging among Australian organised crime groups is money laundering through internet-based financial products. Online products do not require face-to-face interaction and can deliver rapid and multiple funds transfers across national boundaries. Internet payments, mobile payments and digital precious metals, such as e-gold, are of particular concern.(4)
Organised crime - legitimate business structures
Another trend emerging in Europe has been the increased exploitation of legitimate companies to launder money or to support criminal activities. These findings suggest that organised criminal groups are becoming more proficient at influencing legitimate business.
Transport and import/export businesses are often targeted. The nature of these businesses often requires major operational activities to be subcontracted. This decentralisation of control creates vulnerabilities that organised crime groups can exploit. There is also the potential for organised crime group members to occupy specific roles within the transport chain to facilitate their activities. (5)
2 Danks, K 2008, 'Email “death threat” scam', The Sunday Telegraph, 6 July 2008.
3 Choo, KWR, Smith, RG & McCusker, R 2007. Future directions in technology-enabled crime: 2007-09, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, 8 July 2008
4 Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission, 2007, Inquiry into the future impact of serious and organised crime on Australian society.
5 EUROPOL, 2007, EU Organised Crime Threat Assessment.