Two Men Sentenced for Scam Campaign that Preyed on Millions of Australians

Two men were sentenced to more than six years in prison for developing and distributing an SMS phishing scam that sent millions of phishing messages to Australian mobile numbers.

Operation Genmaicha began in June 2019 after the AFP and Victoria Police arrested a 27-year-old Bendigo man for various telephone-based offences, hacking and financial phishing offences.

Information uncovered during the investigation, linked the 27-year-old man to an Australian cybercrime syndicate.

Investigators from the AFP Cybercrime Investigations and New South Wales Police Force Cybercrime Command identified key players in the syndicate in New South Wales and executed several search warrants across Sydney.

Several simboxes – devices to enable multiple messages from multiple phone numbers to be sent quickly – were seized during the search warrants, as were thousands of dollars in cash, fake drivers’ licenses, several mobile phones and a small quantity of methamphetamine.

A 37-year-old Burwood man and 51-year-old Macquarie Park man were arrested in September 2020 and pleaded guilty in November 2021.

The 37-year-old man pleaded guilty to dealing in identification information with the intention to commit fraud, using equipment to facilitate fraud and possessing a controlled drug, and was sentenced to three years and seven months imprisonment,.

Meanwhile, the 51-year-old man pleaded guilty to dealing in identification information with the intention to commit fraud, using equipment to facilitate fraud, and trafficking a controlled drug, and was sentenced to two years and 10 months imprisonment.

AFP Commander Cybercrime Operations Chris Goldsmid said international and domestic syndicates continued to target Australians with spoofed phone numbers and cautioned members of the public against clicking on links from unknown numbers.

“Some of these syndicates are professional groups and the messages can look like they’re coming from legitimate numbers associated with financial institutions. If you receive a message out of the blue asking you to follow a link, the safest thing to do is delete the message and contact your financial institution directly,” Commander Goldsmid said.

“Be mindful of messages that convey a sense of urgency and if you are worried, contact your bank directly with numbers provided on their legitimate websites.”

NSW Police Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Matthew Craft, said the arrests are an excellent example of Federal and State law enforcement bodies working together.

“Cyber criminals need to be aware that law enforcement agencies are regularly collaborating and responding to emerging issues, which translates to increased arrests and charges for those that facilitate online crime,” Superintendent Craft said.

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