Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
QLD corruption watchdog investigating involvement of former police in online fraud -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

MARK COLVIN: Queensland's corruption watchdog has confirmed that it's looking into the alleged involvement of former police officers in a massive and complex series of online frauds.

The cases involve allegedly protecting organised crime syndicates that have defrauded people of hundreds of millions of dollars.

In an exclusive interview with the ABC, the head of the Crime and Corruption Commission has outlined his organisation's special investigation into online betting syndicates run out of so-called boiler rooms on the Gold Coast.

Ken Levy says that just one of these boiler rooms is estimated to have raked in more than $100 million from people across Australia, and that's just one of six the CCC is looking into.

This exclusive report by Mark Willacy.

MARK WILLACY: He worked for years for the crime syndicates selling so-called 'race prediction software'.

Cold-calling people across the country from boiler rooms on the Gold Coast, this insider - who we'll call Jason - is now a key witness in the country's biggest investigation into these scams.

We have used an actor to disguise his voice.

JASON (voiceover): The cost of the software ranges between $20,000 to $30,000. It's mainly horseracing software which is sold on the basis it can make people up to $80,000 dollars a year.

But it's a giant con. It doesn't work. The people who run these companies are ruthless.

MARK WILLACY: Jason's inside accounts of these Gold Coast investment frauds are of intense interest to Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission, which has made these boiler rooms the target of one of the biggest investigations in the watchdog's history.

The CCC's acting chairman Ken Levy spoke exclusively to the ABC about how his investigators are tackling the boiler rooms.

KEN LEVY: They generally only tend to only operate for about 12 months, after which, they then close down and they phoenix back into another organisation, another company with another name.

We have followed over the last 12 months of the investigation all the people who could be relevant to these particular companies, and we've also looked at the financial analysis of all of the transactions that there are records for.

MARK WILLACY: One of the people at the centre of the Crime and Corruption Commission's investigation is a Queensland police detective-turned-private investigator called Mick Featherstone.

As revealed by the ABC last year, the CCC is also investigating Featherstone's links to former and serving police, and allegations that fraudsters on the Gold Coast may have been protected by corrupt officers.

For 17 years, Stuart Phillis was a police officer on the Gold Coast. On two occasions, he investigated serious allegations against people who were clients of Mick Featherstone. And both times, he says the PI seemed to have access to information that he could have only got from inside the police.

STUART PHILLIS: I actually went to one of my bosses and said, look, "You know, information's getting out, there's a bit of thing going on here; Featherstone's obviously involved in it," you know. I got told to basically, "Don't go there."

MARK WILLACY: How'd that make you feel?

STUART PHILLIS: Ah, from that day, I decided there's nothing going on that computer.

MARK WILLACY: Twelve months after starting its investigation, the Crime and Corruption Commission has finalised one line of inquiry when it comes to the possible protection of these scams by police.

CCC acting chairman, Ken Levy.

KEN LEVY: There's been no involvement, no corrupt conduct, by serving police in relation to the boiler rooms that we're investigating.

MARK WILLACY: I notice you say 'serving police', what about former?

KEN LEVY: In relation to former police, we haven't come to a concluded view about that. But the investigation isn't complete, and because that is operational in nature, I'm precluded legally and for other reasons to make any further comment at this stage.

MARK WILLACY: For now, that line of inquiry is still being pursued, as is the investigation into these multi-million dollar investment scams.

On that front, the acting head of Queensland's crime and corruption watchdog, Ken Levy, has some simple advice for people looking to invest their money.

KEN LEVY: If it's almost too good to be true, it probably is. And it certainly is the case with these boiler room frauds that people can be ripped-off very badly and very quickly.

MARK COLVIN: The acting head of Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission Ken Levy.

Mark Willacy's full report can be seen tonight on ABC TV's 7.30 program.