June 25, 2024

Australian authorities apprehend individuals and seize assets in a cryptocurrency fraud case, highlighting the need for caution in crypto transactions and ongoing efforts against scams.


Highlighting Points

    • Australian authorities arrest two individuals and recover high-end cars and valuable timepieces in a cryptocurrency fraud investigation.
    • The investigation focused on a $5.5 million scam that occurred in 2021, leading to the creation of Strike Force Scotland.
    • Significant findings include the seizure of luxury cars, motorcycles, watches, cryptocurrency wallets, and relevant documents.
    • Detective Superintendent emphasizes caution and due diligence in cryptocurrency transactions and urges the use of approved exchanges and reporting scams promptly.

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.

The Investigation and Arrests

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. It is reported that the scam occurred in 2021, leading to 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 and successfully apprehended the 39-year-old driver who was the sole occupant.

Significant Findings and Seizures

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.

On Saturday, June 21, 2023, police discovered and seized a red Ferrari valued at $600,000 from a car dealership in Marrickville, further 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.

Charges and Allegations

The arrested individual was charged with dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage through deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime to conceal. As per the statement, the police plan to allege in court that the younger man defrauded the companies using a cryptocurrency scam, while the older man authorized the funds and arranged the disposal of the Ferrari on behalf of the younger man to avoid police detection. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCk_9l1tFm0  

Caution and Reminders

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. Arbinja emphasized the importance of responsible handling of cryptocurrency to avoid scams.

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.

Continuing Efforts Against Cryptocurrency Fraud

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.

However, the prevalence of investment scams remains 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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