Australian Federal Police arrested two people for allegedly impersonating government officials and Police Officers after a victim of a scam filed a complaint.
Police raided a property in Western Sydney where they seized mobile phones and papers they believe are related to the scam. The alleged scam relates to the victim being called on the phone and told they are speaking to a public official from Services Australia, the department responsible for the public interactions of several government agencies including the tax office. The scammers then convince the victim that they have somehow broken the law and pass them off to a supposed officer from the Australian Federal Police.
After getting the personal details of the victim, the scammers then convince them that their identity has been stolen (which ironically is now true, as the scammers just stole it). The scam may include asking the victim to provide all of their credit cards in an envelope which is to be collected by an “official” for further investigation. With all the personal details and many of the victim’s credit cards, the thieves are at liberty to access bank accounts, take out fraudulent loans, and otherwise manipulate the system to their own advantge. The victim stands to lose a lot, not only cash, but also in terms of their reputation, credit rating and standing. Victims may find it difficult to get credit or live their lives normally after such an attack, and may even be mistakenly accused of crimes committed in their name.
Advice from the Australian Federal Police is to not engage with people on the phone. If a police officer calls, you are entitled to ask their name and badge number in Australia. This also applies to most western countries, including the USA, Canada and the UK. You have every right to hang up and call back on the phone numbers listed on the police department’s official web site, asking for the officer by name and badge number.
Investigations into the crime syndicate are ongoing and police will continue to pursue perpertrators. Alleged crimes include fraud, deceptively obtaining goods, impersonating a public official and others. They warn that these crimes can carry lengthy jail terms and visa holders will likely be deported.
- Don’t engage with unknown people on the phone, police and government agencies don’t normally ring you in advance of an arrest.
- Ask for ID if someone shows up. Government employees and police should have ID.
- Phone your local police if in doubt. Get advice from a trusted source. Use the listed number, not a number given to you over the phone or in a message.