In a successful operation against cryptocurrency crime, Australian authorities have apprehended two individuals and recovered high-end cars and valuable timepieces following a thorough investigation by the Financial Crimes Squad detectives.
According to a June 22 statement by the New Wales Police, the investigation, conducted by the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad, focused on a cryptocurrency hoax that defrauded two companies of over $5.5 million.
Notably, the cryptocurrency scam is reported to have occurred in 2021, prompting the creation of Strike Force Scotland in March 2023. The diligent efforts of the strike force culminated on Friday, June 16, 2023, when detectives intercepted a vehicle on Orlando Road in Cromer, successfully apprehending the 39-year-old driver who was the sole occupant.
Following the arrest, three search warrants were executed at a residence and warehouse in Cromer linked to the suspect, yielding significant findings. These included the seizure of six luxury and classic cars, 11 motorcycles, seven luxury watches, cryptocurrency wallets, and relevant documents associated with the ongoing investigation. The total estimated value of the confiscated vehicles is approximately $2.7 million.
The apprehended individual was charged with dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage through deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime to conceal. On Saturday, June 21, 2023, police discovered and seized a red Ferrari valued at $600,000 from a car dealership in Marrickville, strengthening the case against the accused. They also apprehended a 67-year-old man on the same day and charged him with dealing with the proceeds of crime exceeding $100,000.
As per the statement, the police plan to “allege in court the younger man allegedly defrauded the companies using a cryptocurrency scam, whilst the older man authorized the funds and arranged the disposal of the Ferrari on behalf of the younger man to avoid police detection.”
Confirming the arrests, Detective Superintendent Gordon Arbinja, Commander of the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad, issued a timely reminder to exercise caution and due diligence when engaging in cryptocurrency transactions.
“Cryptocurrency isn’t illegal, but it is imperative that it’s handled responsibly to avoid being scammed,” said Arbinja
Arbinja further recommended using AUSTRAC-approved digital currency exchanges and thoroughly scrutinizing transaction details during cryptocurrency buying or selling. He also urged individuals who suspect a scam has targeted them to contact ScamWatch and local law enforcement for assistance promptly.
This is not the first time Australian authorities have conducted successful arrests and recovery of assets in prominent cryptocurrency fraud cases. Last December, police apprehended four individuals following a $100 million scam involving fraudulent cryptocurrency and forex investment investments.
That said, the prevalence of investment scams is a global concern, and Australia has not been spared. Recent data compiled by Scamwatch reveals that Australians lost over AU$ 113 million within the initial five months of 2022.
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