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Police smash massive identity fraud syndicate.



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Media Release

SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON

Minister for Justice and Customs

Manager of Government Business in the Senate Senator for Western Australia

E028/05 11 March 2005

Police smash massive identity fraud syndicate

A Sydney man has been arrested for alleged possession of significant quantities of forged Commonwealth and State documents and possession of equipment to create false personal identities, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison announced today.

The 39 year old factory hand of Greenacre has been charged with 15 counts of possession of forged Commonwealth documents, four counts of unlawfully obtained goods in premises, three of possession of implements for making false instruments and four counts of custody of false instruments.

He appeared before the Central Local Court yesterday and was remanded in custody to appear again Wednesday 16 March.

"The scale of this criminal operation shows the lengths criminals will go to in an effort to take over the identities of innocent victims," Senator Ellison said.

“Identity fraud is a critical arm of organised crime because access to false identities is vital to the activities of criminal groups including drug smuggling, people trafficking and terrorism,” Senator Ellison said.

“Such a significant arrest sends a clear message to criminals involved in identity fraud that the Australian government and Australian law enforcement agencies are determined to break their operations.”

"Once again we urge the public to guard their personal information with as caution much as if it were cash,” he said.

In operations around Sydney this week, the Identity Crime Task Force (ICTF) executed a number of search warrants seizing a large quantity of items including computer equipment and identity documents.

These items included computers and computer software, a Datacard plastic card printer, a card laminator, a high resolution television, false NSW drivers licences, a large number of bank keycards, a large number of blank plastic cards, a large amount of financial and mortgage documents, keys, a motor vehicle allegedly fraudulently obtained, a large number of foreign passports in various names, 126 blank Australian Tax Office cheques, 14 false Medicare cards in various names, a large number of bank key cards in various names, a large number of blank bank cheques from various banks, hundreds of passport photos depicting various persons and $800,000 worth of cigarettes.

The ICTF is a multi-agency strike force comprising 15 Commonwealth and State bodies, including the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, the NSW Crime Commission, Customs and the Australian Crime Commission.

Senator Ellison said the aim of the Task Force was to disrupt organised and serious identity-related crime in Commonwealth and state jurisdictions.

During the investigation simultaneous search warrants were executed at a number of properties of interest in Greenacre, Homebush West and Lidcombe where the large amount of equipment and documents allegedly used in the creation of false identities was seized.

Investigations into this syndicate will be continuing.

Senator Ellison commended the Commonwealth and State law enforcement agencies involved in the operation.

Media enquiries: Brad Burke (02) 6277 7260/(0417) 749 711 http://www.ag.gov.au/www/justiceministerHome.nsf