Information submitted from banks and casinos helped AUSTRAC identify a former solicitor who stole more than A$1 million from individuals, businesses and financial institutions as part of an elaborate mortgage refinancing fraud.
What to look out for
- High-volume account activity involving domestic transfers of up to A$500,000.
- The use of false identification and false information to obtain funds through financial lenders.
- Depositing cheques of up to A$500,000 in personal accounts and requesting priority clearance.
- Requests for loan settlement cheques issued under multiple false names.
- Repeated ATM withdrawals once a cheque is cleared, until the bank account has a zero balance.
- Financial transactions inconsistent with a customer’s established profile.
- Having bank accounts in multiple Australian states.
- Large-value gaming activity with no threshold transactions recorded.
AUSTRAC analysed suspicious matter reports (SMRs) from banks and casinos to identify a former solicitor with a long-term gambling addiction who stole money from individuals, businesses and financial institutions as part of an elaborate mortgage refinancing fraud.
The offender placed newspaper ads posing as a mortgage broker offering low-interest refinancing to people wanting to borrow money against their property. He used his victims’ personal and banking details, along with forged signatures and falsified documents, to lodge home loan applications to buy his victims’ property using a false name.
After lodging 19 fraudulent home loan applications with different banks, he obtained more than A$1 million through four loans. He deposited the money from these mortgages into various bank accounts he had opened in false names. He then quickly withdrew the money as cash from different ATMs.
The offender was arrested and charged with offences relating to obtaining financial advantage by deception.
The offender was found guilty of nine counts of financial advantage by deception and 14 counts of attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception. He was sentenced to nine years and 10 months’ jail and ordered to pay compensation of almost A$400,000 to two banks.
How business reporting helped
AUSTRAC received eight SMRs about the offender from casinos and banks. The SMRs revealed a substantial increase in the amount of time and money the offender was spending on gambling activities compared to previous years. They also showed that he was carrying out high-value gaming activity without recording any cash transactions of A$10,000 or more, most likely to avoid reporting requirements. The reports also indicated the offender was moving funds in and out of bank accounts quickly to try to hide his illegal activities.
AUSTRAC analysed the reports submitted by the banks and casinos and referred them to law enforcement for further investigation.