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Syndicate Steals $100,000 By Changing Banking Logins

A man has been arrested over his alleged role in organised thefts and a fraud syndicate operating in Sydney's west.

Police investigations started in November last year when they looked into a number of allegedly fraudulent bank transactions.

The investigation by Strike Force Quinlan looked at 70 alleged account takeovers and subsequent fraudulent transactions. The transactions totalled more than $100,000 between February and September 2018 and appeared to have been conducted in the same way.

Police say the crime syndicate allegedly stole people's identity by moving a victim's mobile phone number to a new carrier and then contacting a financial institution to reset the account.

Identity Theft Arrest
Police searched homes in Sydney's west and then mad an arrest. Image: NSW Police.

They'd then change passwords and gain access to the account, where they could register it for applications that support mobile payments. The syndicate would then allegedly use this to purchase goods and transfer money overseas.

After nearly six months of investigations, Police executed two search warrants at 7am on Tuesday in western Sydney suburbs Doonside and Granville.  Mobile phones, laptops, luxury goods including men's watches and clothing, bank records and identity documentation in the names of people who do not live at the addresses, were seized by police.

A 22-year-old man was arrested by police and was taken to Blacktown police station where was later charged with four counts of unauthorised modification of data, two counts of recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime and dealing with identity information with intent to commit an indictable offence, among other charges.

Identity Theft Arrest
Identity Theft Arrest

Cybercrime Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Matt Craft said identity crimes are a multi-million dollar organised crime ‘business’.

“Organised criminals seek to exploit vulnerabilities in systems for a financial advantage, and phone porting is an easily avoidable issue that enables broader criminal enterprise,” Craft said.

“In 2019, a mobile phone is central to a person’s financial security. It contains important information and when compromised, it can be devastating."

Craft also said crime linked to phone porting has cost the community over $10 million. This number is based on incidents reported to police and does not take into account activities not detected.

According to recent statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) nearly 29  percent of all robberies in 2017/2018 included theft of ID, passports and other personal items. This demonstrates the growing shift of criminals targeting identity over physical items that could be hard to resell.

"Identity crime has been on the rise in recent years and so the nature of these crimes has changed what they [thieves] steal," Dr Rick Brown, deputy director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, told 10 daily in February.

READ MORE: Why Thieves Now Want To Steal Your Identity More Than Your TV

The 22-year-old man is set to face Blacktown Local Court on Thursday.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au