Melbourne man has been charged by an AFP taskforce with chanelling the proceeds of cyber crime.
Alleged money mule laundered $176k from fraudulent emails
A 23-year-old Melbourne man has been charged with allegedly laundering more than $176,000 stolen from businesses targeted by cyber criminals.
The AFP claims the man acted as a money mule and facilitated the movement of money obtained through business email compromise (BEC) fraud and other cyber crime.
The charges came after the AFP was alerted to unusual financial transactions by a bank last August and began Operation Dolos-EMMA8.
The investigation allegedly identified that from June 2021 to May 2022 the man received $176,192 in funds suspected of being the criminal proceeds of BEC frauds.
He allegedly dispersed the funds among a number of accounts before transferring the money to another individual.
One of the deposits allegedly related to proceeds of crime derived from a BEC attack on a construction company. It allegedly lost more than $17,000 after receiving a fraudulent email from a furniture supplier claiming its bank details had changed. The construction company paid the funds into a bank account that was allegedly in the man’s name.
The AFP executed a search warrant at the man’s Footscray home in November 2022, seizing a number of electronic devices and small amounts of illicit drugs.
Examination of the evidence seized from the search warrant led to the man’s arrest on 13 July and he appeared briefly in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.
He is next due to appear in court on 5 October charged with one count of dealing with the proceeds of crime, money, or property worth $100,000 or more and two counts of possession of cocaine and cannabis.
The maximum penalty for the proceeds of crime charge is 10 years’ imprisonment while the drug charges carry a maximum penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment.
The AFP established multiagency taskforce Operation Dolos in January 2020 to target the growing threat of BEC. It comprises the Joint Policing Cybercrime Coordination Centre, state and territory police, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australia Cyber Security Centre, AUSTRAC, and the financial sector.
It said Operation Dolos had prevented more than $45 million from being lost to cyber criminals conducting BEC.
AFP Senior Constable Khali Sherer said cyber criminals are using sophisticated techniques to trick their BEC targets.
“Business email compromise has become a particularly prominent cyber threat, which is why the AFP, through Operation Dolos, remains focused on protecting Australians who are being targeted in these attacks,” Senior Constable Sherer said.
“In 2021–2022, Australians reported losses of more than $98 million to business email compromise attacks, with an average loss of $64,000 per reported incident.
“If you think an email is suspicious, make further inquiries. Call and check directly with the business or organisation you are dealing with. It is reasonable to ask questions to protect yourself or your company.”