News and Analysis

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Investigation & Fraud News – Week ending 24 November 2023

10 stories this week:


Sydney man charged after allegedly obtaining $60k from ‘elaborate’ rental scam – 17 November 2023
Scott Maxwell Jeffries allegedly stole money from prospective tenants. It is alleged he would advertise properties on social media and ask potential tenants to pay him a bond. Mr Jeffries was charged with 34 offences, including obtaining a financial advantage by deception, dealing with the proceeds of crime, and using a fake identity.

Andrew Spira pleads guilty to fraud and drugs charges in Darwin, handed $39K fine – 17 November 2023
Andrew Spira, a Sydney entrepreneur who concocted an elaborate plan to flee Australia, became a drug-dealer in South-East Asia, hijackrf a yacht and fundrf an armed militia, has pleaded guilty to a string of fraud and drug charges in Darwin. He was handed a $39,000 fine and an 18-month good-behaviour bond.

Fake celebrity scam ads hijack Facebook accounts to target Australians – 18 November 2023
ABC News has uncovered multiple examples of multinational companies having their Facebook pages compromised by scammers. These include DoorDash in Australia, a network of pages run by Ethiopian Airlines, and the Paddington Bear movie, along with a series of politicians and musicians. Meta claims to be constantly tackling scams through a combination of technology, such as new machine learning techniques and specially trained reviewers, to identify content and accounts that violate policies.

How cybercriminals are using bogus login pages to steal your banking information – 18 November 2023
Russian cybercriminals have a sophisticated new malware campaign, with Australians specifically in their sights. Unsuspecting victims are being swindled with bogus login pages on their banking apps, which appear authentic to even the technologically savvy eye. If you punch in your details into the wrong page, your bank details are sent directly to scammers. This is a relatively new malware called Octo and it’s the latest offering from cybercriminals which can be privately purchased on the dark web.

Colombian singer Shakira reaches deal with Spanish tax authorities before fraud trial – 20 November 2023
Colombian singer Shakira has reached a settlement with Spanish tax authorities to avoid a trial over charges she failed to pay $24.18 million in income tax between 2012 and 2014. The prosecution substituted jail time for a fine of half of the amount owed, more than 7.3 million euros.

Craig Robert Dale pleads guilty to defrauding remote Kimberley community of Warmun – 21 November 2023
Craig Robert Dal, a convicted fraudster has pleaded guilty to ripping off $2.7 million from a remote WA Aboriginal community. Dale offered to build staff housing for the community and reconstruct a burnt building. He demanded payment up-front and the community paid a total of $2,770,275 into his personal bank account. None of the work was done, and Dale spent the money on himself, mainly for gambling.

Former NSW Labor minister Joe Tripodi to be prosecuted for alleged misconduct in public office – 21 November 2023
Former NSW government minister Joe Tripodi will be prosecuted for misconduct in public office for allegedly leaking a “highly confidential” Treasury document to development firm Buildev, which benefited the company. At the time, Buildev was part-owned by former billionaire Nathan Tinkler.

Swyftx says Binance CEO Zhao Changpeng conviction a ‘line in the sand’ – 22 November 2023
The founder of Binance Zhao Changpeng, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange has pleaded guilty to money laundering charges and stepped down as CEO, triggering concern for Australian consumers. Several of Australia’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms, including Swyftx, use Binance to complete trades on behalf of Australian consumers.

Female WA Corrective Services officer guilty of indecently assaulting colleagu – 23 November 2023
An officer at a prison in regional Western Australia has been found guilty of indecently assaulting a colleague at work, in a trial that heard of a “toxic” culture at several of the state’s corrections facilities. The case centred on two female workers and the offender was fined $3,000.

Perth Mint avoids fine over ‘compliance issues’ with anti-money laundering laws – 23 November 2023
The Perth Mint has escaped being fined for “compliance issues” with anti-money laundering laws, instead agreeing to a voluntary undertaking. The Mint was legally required to carry out rigorous checks on the sale of gold to high-risk customers and examine the source of their funds, but is alleged to have failed to do so.


Investigation & Fraud News – Week ending 17 November 2023

11 stories this week:


Cold Rock Ice Creamery Shepparton owners convicted of 16 child employment breaches – 10 November 2023
The owners of Cold Rock Ice Creamery Shepparton have been convicted and fined $4,500 after pleading guilty to 16 criminal charges around breaches of the Child Employment Act. The breaches were in relation to the number of hours worked and lack of adequate breaks for children under the age of 15. Business owners G & K Pearse Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to 16 charges and were fined $4,500.

The inside account of how Commonwealth Bank tried to bury the scandal that sparked a royal commission – 10 November 2023
Article tells the story of how Jeff Morris, blew the whistle on the Commonwealth Bank’s wealth management team. Morris had revealed how the bank’s business model in its wealth management division was driven by commissions and bonuses. It promoted bad behaviour such as switching customers from the safety of term deposits into riskier mortgage funds, so the team could be paid higher commissions and bonuses. In June 2014 a senate inquiry recommended the government establish a Royal Commission, after finding thousands of Australians had lost their life savings due to shoddy financial advice from the CBA.

Boss slapped strung-up apprentice at Christmas party – 13 November 2023
Steven Yousif (sole director) of Melbourne Glass solutions is trying to avoid conviction after he slapped a young apprentice while the man was strung upside down from a crane at a workplace Christmas party. Mr Elkharraz the apprentice, lodged a complaint with WorkSafe, telling investigators he was also verbally abused and threatened by Yousif between April 2019 and May 2021.

Banker accused of fraud in Aspen and California appears in Australia – 13 November 2023
A former Australian banker accused of defrauding investors in California and Aspen before moving to Bali has been holidaying in Australia and asking for funds, despite being pursued by authorities in the United States. Andrew Waters, is accused of reeling in wealthy investors by inviting them to dinner and befriending them, then selling them “worthless” shares in a company called ECom Products Group Corporation.

Optus decision highlights challenges for privilege claims over investigation reports – 13 November 2023
The Federal Court has found that a report by Deloitte on its external review of Optus’s data breach is not privileged, despite Optus’s claim that the report’s dominant purpose was to assist its lawyers in advising it in relation to the September 2022 cyberattack. This is the latest in a line of Australian court decisions that have exposed the significant challenges in making legal professional privilege claims over investigation reports or ‘root cause’ analyses that can often follow major unexpected events or alleged corporate wrongdoing.

Victorian man loses life savings to tech support scam amid ACCC calls for uniform bank policy – 15 November 2023
A 76-year-old customer of Bendigo Bank lost more than $21,000 in a scam involving fake tech support. The ACCC believes inconsistencies in how banks approach scamming makes the country’s banking systems and their customers vulnerable. It wants the National Anti-Scam Centre and federal government to establish cross-industry standards and codes that banks must follow and are enforceable.

Billion-dollar crime syndicate allegedly helmed by Sydney brothers – 15 November 2023
An alleged billion dollar organised crime syndicate, with tentacles spanning from Beirut to Australia, has suffered a major blow after police arrested two brothers, the alleged chiefs, in Sydney’s airport and Lebanon. Police believe the year-long investigation into the gun, drug, tobacco, and money-running gang could also mark the end of one of Sydney’s most notorious criminal careers. Potentially, they were the biggest criminal network and enterprise in Australia at the current time.

New Report Finds That More Than 80% of Organizations Across APAC Are Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Tackle Fraud – 15 November 2023
Banks and payment service providers across Asia Pacific have progressed with fraud prevention, but it still remains a challenge. The use of advanced technologies, like AI, has definitely enhanced the ability to detect and prevent scams. While many organizations have comprehensive controls in place, the capability to leverage enterprise data and adapt to the changing fraud landscape remains a significant concern. With potential scam reimbursement regulations just around the corner, banks and payment service providers will need to become more proactive in real-time fraud mitigation.

Sales of fake Australian IDs rampant on the dark web, second only to the US – 17 November 2023
New research has found that, fake Australian identity documents such as driver’s licences are some of the most commonly bought and sold products on the dark web. Criminal organisations distribute fake identity documents on the dark web to be used in many illicit activities, such as identity crime, money laundering, human and drug trafficking, illegal immigration, scams and espionage.

Mother in custody after admitting $2m ‘sausage factory’ TAFE scam – 17 November 2023
Text messages between a mother and daughter who swindled more than $2 million from education providers, including South West TAFE, revealed a fear their plot was “too good to be true”. The due created fake applications and pocketed the funds.

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Footy club legend Ian Collins launches lawsuit over alleged $100m Ponzi scheme – 17 November 2023
Carlton Football Club legend Ian Collins has accused a suburban Melbourne law firm as being behind a suspected multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme, of secretly placing fraudulent mortgages over his properties as part of a sophisticated strategy to swindle investors. AMS Ivanhoe Lawyers is being investigated over claims its recently deceased founder John Adams misappropriated up to $100 million in clients’ funds.


Investigation & Fraud News – Week ending 10 November 2023

13 stories this week:


Calls for a Victorian police ombudsman to tackle ‘predatory behaviour’, after senior officer jailed for raping junior colleague – 3 November 2023
A western Victorian police officer is sentenced to four years and nine months’ jail for raping and sexually assaulting a junior colleague. An IBAC review has found “predatory behaviour continues” within Victoria Police after investigating 27 allegations of such behaviour between 2018 and 2022. Lawyer Jeremy King says internal police investigations “will never” address this issue and has called for an independent police ombudsman.

Sterling Group founder Raymond Jones faces court over collapse of retiree housing scheme – 3 November 2023
Three men involved in a failed housing scheme which left retirees across the country with huge financial losses, have appeared in a Perth court on criminal charges. The men were charged with aiding and abetting a company to engage in dishonest conduct following an investigation by the corporate watchdog.The company collapsed in 2019 and some investors lost their homes.

Inside the world of fake ad scams stealing the identities of Kochie and celebrities like him around the world – 6 November 2023
Attention grabbing photos of Celebrities are never real. It’s always a scam designed to trick you out of your money. The ACCC has taken Meta to court over the ads in Australia, alleging that the platform has engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct.

Guide to White-Collar Crime in Australia – 6 November 2023
This guide by Gilbert and Tobin’s Dispute and Investigation Team, provides on corporate and personal liability, damages and compensation, plea agreements, corporate fraud, bribery, influence peddling, insider dealing, tax fraud, competition law, cybercrimes, protection of company secrets, money laundering, self-disclosure, whistle-blower protection and assessment of penalties.

As David McBride readies himself for trial, his fellow whistleblowers have a message for the government – 6 November 2023
A group of high-profile whistleblowers who helped spark royal commissions and change laws have written an open letter to the federal government. Accusing it of overseeing a broken system that has left whistleblowers exposed to costly legal fees – and worse. It said by failing to drop the charges against Mr McBride, the government had given people reason to be wary about speaking up. Mr McBride is facing five charges, including disclosing information in breach of the Crimes Act and unlawfully giving classified information under the Defence Act.

‘Scam-in-a-box’: MyGov suspends thousands of accounts linked to dark web fraud kits – 6 November 2023
Thousands of MyGov accounts are being suspended each month out of concern they’ve been breached via “scam-in-a-box” kits being sold by criminals on the dark web. The products were being used to create fake websites and provide the specialist knowledge required to launch phishing attacks on Centrelink, Australian Tax Office and Medicare accounts.

Two men charged following card skimming scam in multiple states – 6 November 2023
Two men have been charged in Victoria over a $100,000 alleged card skimming racket linked to a Romanian organised crime syndicate. Police will allege the men are involved in at least 44 events of using cloned cards linked with the ‘deep skimming’ insert device, fraudulently withdrawing at least $102,000.

Bitcoin theft linked to counterfeit Ledger Live app on Microsoft Store – 6 November 2023
In a recent development, a fraudulent “Ledger Live Web3” app on Microsoft’s App store has led to the theft of approximately $600,000 in Bitcoin. The scam, tricked users into believing they were using the legitimate Ledger Live software for offline crypto storage. In spite of attempts by Cointelegraph to reach out for comments, Microsoft has not yet responded to these allegations.

Exploring the Role of Artificial Intelligence in a Retail Crime Setting with Professor Michael Townsley – 7 November 2023
This article outlines the emerging role that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is likely to play in preventing and responding to retail crime and the potential impacts of this.

Former Little Athletics Tasmania president Rhonda O’Sign avoids jail time after stealing more than $10,000 – 8 November 2023
Former Little Athletics Tasmania president Rhonda O’Sign has avoided jail time after stealing more than $10,000 from the not-for-profit. The Supreme Court in Hobart heard the stealing happened during a “chaotic period” in O’Sign’s life, and she is remorseful and embarrassed. O’Sign received a suspended sentence and was ordered to perform 140 hours of community service.

Mental health spiral behind ‘hare-brained’ $395m fraud – 8 November 2023
Demetrios “James” Charisiou, is facing prison for orchestrating a $395 million National Disability Insurance Scheme fraud. However he blames his “extraordinarily stupid conduct” on his mental health, which spiralled after a heart attack. He has admitted to obtaining financial advantage by deception and two document fraud charges, after he duped Korean investors into pouring bank credit into fake NDIS property deals.

‘Every cent of that is now gone’: Family scammed $32k after picking up phone – 9 November 2023
A Perth family has fallen prey to a sophisticated phone scam that fleeced them of $32,000. The ordeal unfolded through a series of fake bank calls and messages, culminating in a ruthless raid on their bank account within just a few hours.

0ASIC releases new alert list highlighting suspicious investment opportunities – 10 November 2023
ASIC has today strengthened its scam prevention tools to support consumers with the publication of a new investor alert list. Consumers can use this list to help inform themselves as to whether an entity they are considering investing in could be fraudulent, a scam or unlicensed. The companies, businesses and websites on this list may be targeting Australian consumers; do not hold a current Australian financial services (AFS) licence or Australian credit licence from ASIC; and are not allowed to offer investments in Australia. This list is provided as a warning to potential investors and is regularly updated.


Investigation & Fraud News – Week ending 3 November 2023

12 stories this week:


Queensland woman caring for sick husband warns of elaborate employment scam after losing savings – 29 October 2023
A Queensland woman has lost her life savings in an elaborate online employment scam targeting vulnerable people looking for online work. She was falsely employed and manipulated by the scammers for about three weeks and lost $15,473. Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones says the National Anti-Scams Centre has reported an increase of more than 740 per cent in employment scams in 2023, with losses since January this year reaching $20 million.

Queensland public sector whistleblowing laws need a new act – 30 October 2023
Queensland’s public sector whistleblowing legislation has come under the spotlight, prompting a recent review by Alan Wilson KC. The report outlines 107 recommendations which advocate for a transformative shift, specifically the introduction of a new act to replace the existing Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (PID Act).

Robyn and Ashley Garratt face court for allegedly defrauding York Community Resource Centre – 30 October 2023
A prominent Wheatbelt couple have faced court charged with defrauding the York Community Resource Centre (York CRC). Robyn Garratt was charged with five counts of fraud by forgery and two counts of stealing as a servant. She has now had six additional charges added by police after a follow-up search warrant. Mr Garratt is facing two charges relating to the same investigation – one of benefiting from fraud and one of property laundering.

Sam Bankman-Fried, former cryptocurrency billionaire, has testified at his fraud trial. Here’s what he said – 31 October 2023
Former billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried is currently standing trial for fraud in New York. He is accused of stealing billions from his cryptocurrencycustomers, to pay the bills for his other ventures. The key moments from his testimony are outlined in this article.

High-ranking Tasmanian public servants named under parliamentary privilege over potential misconduct allegations – 31 October 2023
An independent MP (Meg Webb) has used parliamentary privilege to name 22 current and former Tasmanian public servants the commission of inquiry into child sexual abuse may have levelled allegations of misconduct against. Ms Webb said the commission “made it clear” that because it had been blocked by “legislative impediments and calculated legal wrangling on the part of the state, it was not able to finalise the apparently intended adverse findings and findings of misconduct”.

Unlicensed builder Mark Anthony Webster sentenced to jail for defrauding victims out of more than $600,000 – 1 November 2023
An unlicensed builder has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for taking more than $600,000 from clients and spending it on the pokies. Mark Webster was contracted to complete shop fit-outs for restaurants and retail stores after responding to ads online. He used aliases and would provide clients with a false business name, ABN and QBCC registration number. He was given a non-parole period of two years.

Man, 81, faces court accused of stealing more than $900K meant for superannuation, investments and loan – 1 November 2023
An 81-year-old Hackham man has been accused of stealing hundred of thousands of dollars from people, who thought they were putting money into their superannuation funds and other investments. Robert Wayne Collins is charged with 10 counts of aggravated theft and one of aggravated dishonest dealing. Police allege he stole more than $900K intended for investments, superannuation and a loan.

The basic check banks aren’t doing to prevent scams – 1 November 2023
Most Australian banks don’t check that BSB and account numbers match the name of the account customers are sending money to. Account name matching is a basic anti-scam measure that has blocked many fraudulent transactions in other countries. In July 2022, the ACCC called on the banking sector to establish an industry-wide account name checking system, but that has yet to happen.

ASIC removes thousands of scam pages in takedown blitz – 2 November 2023
More than 2100 investment scam websites purporting to offer high-risk products like crypto assets and FX derivatives have been removed since July, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission revealed, with around 20 dodgy websites taken down per day.

Romance scam behind $228m Chinese money laundering ring – 2 November 2023
A $228 million Chinese money laundering syndicate was allegedly linked to a romance investment scam run by an organised crime network. The company, which operates 12 retail shopfronts across Australia, is accused of being used as a front to transfer money to illegitimate customers and conceal about $228 million from regulators. The syndicate allegedly funnelled money into bank accounts set up in the names of relatives and associates, the court was told, with seven people arrested last week over their alleged involvement.

Trial hears of alleged indecent assault, toxic culture at regional WA prison – 3 November 2023
A two-day trial in a regional WA court, heard damning allegations of bullying, harassment and toxic workplace culture at multiple WA corrective services facilities. A woman allegedly indecently assaulted a female colleague at a regional prison last year. The accused says she has been a victim herself, at the prison and another work site.

Letter from Melbourne lawyer John Adams reveals operation of alleged mortgage Ponzi scheme – 3 November 2023
The ABC has obtained a letter showing in 2019 John Adams who passed away suddenly at the age of 81 last month, was offering investors returns about eight times those offered by banks for term deposits. Mr Adams’s business partner of almost 50 years, Shane Maguire, alerted authorities to the potential fraud. The Victorian Legal Services Commissioner is working with police, to investigate whether Mr Adams misappropriated funds invested in the mortgage lending scheme, he operated out of his firm’s Ivanhoe office for more than 40 years.