6th Chinese National in Sydney Arrested for $100 Million Cyber Investment Scam

6th Chinese National in Sydney Arrested for $100 Million Cyber Investment Scam
AFP investigators conducted a search warrant on 15 Aug. 15, 2023 in Burwood, Sydney, Australia seizing a Chinese national's electronic devices, and three larges boxes of tobacco products. (Courtesy of AFP)
Henry Jom

A sixth Chinese national living in Sydney has been arrested and charged with using bank and cryptocurrency accounts to facilitate cash deposits and transfers offshore.

The “highly sophisticated” cyber investment scam, which involved the unlawful manipulation of legitimate electronic trading platforms normally used by licensed foreign exchange brokers, has resulted in more than US$100 million (A$156 million) in losses worldwide, according to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

So far, five other Chinese Nationals living in Sydney have been arrested under Operation Wickham.

This comes after four Chinese nationals, aged 27, 24, 19, and 19, were charged with the crime in December 2022.

On Aug. 15, the AFP raided the 34-year-old’s place of residence in Burwood, seizing the man’s electronic devices and three large boxes of tobacco products.

The 34-year-old man is alleged to have laundered money offshore, believed to be the proceeds of crime.

According to the AFP, the accounts were created by the man using the details of Samoan nationals here on temporary working visas.

Additionally, the Samoan nationals received a nominal fee for access to the account; however, the AFP found that the Samoan nationals may not have been aware of the criminal activity.

The 34-year-old was identified by police when CCTV captured him undertaking cash deposits into one of the compromised accounts and taking receipt of funds from two compromised accounts.

The man is charged with dealing with proceeds of crime worth more than $100,000, using a designated service under a false name, and not paying for tobacco excise duty.

He is scheduled to appear before Downing Centre Local Court on Sept. 7.

AFP Tipped Off By US Secret Service

In August 2022, the AFP was notified by the United States Secret Service (USSS) about Australian links to the U.S.-based scam. The majority of victims are in the United States.

AFP Cybercrime Operations Eastern Command investigators found that the criminal syndicate was using Chinese nationals living in Australia, predominantly students, to undertake a variety of fraudulent activities.

The four people arrested in December 2022 were used to register Australian companies with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), enhance the legitimate appearance of fraud efforts, and also establish Australian business bank accounts to launder the proceeds of crime.

AFP Detective Superintendent Tim Stainton said the operation is a clear example of how cybercriminals use social engineering techniques to manipulate victims into thinking their investments are legitimate when, in fact, these funds are going straight into the pockets of criminals.

“The number of people falling victim to these types of cyber-enabled scams continues to grow on a daily basis and it is essential that the Australian community exercises the utmost caution if approached online, in person, or on the phone by anyone trying to use any component of their identity to assist the activities of organised crime syndicates,” said Mr. Stainton.

“I encourage all members of the public to exercise a high degree of caution when approached or engaged by unknown entities on the internet or over online communication platforms in relation to investment opportunities or any other type of opportunity. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”

Victims of cybercrime can report it to the police using Report Cyber at cyber.gov.au.
Henry Jom is a reporter for The Epoch Times, Australia, covering a range of topics, including medicolegal, health, political, and business-related issues. He has a background in the rehabilitation sciences and is currently completing a postgraduate degree in law. Henry can be contacted at [email protected]
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