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Massive Australian identity crime syndicate dismantled.



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SENATOR THE HON CHRIS ELLISON MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CUSTOMS MANAGER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS IN THE SENATE SENATOR FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 • Telephone: (02) 6277 7260 Facsimile: (02) 6273 7098

E61/06 11/07/2006

Massive Australian Identity Crime Syndicate Dismantled

The Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, said today that a multi-agency Identity Crime Task Force (ICTF) in NSW had dismantled one of the largest identity crime syndicates seen in Australia.

The six month operation involving five Federal and State law enforcement agencies, known as “Operation Hickey”, has resulted in 13 arrests, with 230 charges laid against nine men and one woman, aged between 20 and 41 years.

“I congratulate the agencies involved in this operation on the significant inroads they have made in cracking down on this type of crime,” Senator Ellison said.

“Identity theft crime cuts to the very core of an individual’s personal liberty, with the results impacting not only financially but on one’s sense of security.”

The operation was established in January this year to investigate the manufacture of high quality counterfeit documents, including Medicare cards, passports, bank cards and driver’s licences.

The total cost of the fraud is yet to be determined, but it is estimated to run into millions of dollars.

It has been alleged people within the syndicate assumed the identity of individuals and companies as well as creating false identities which were allegedly used to obtain money from a number of financial institutions.

The Identity Crime Task Force comprises investigators from Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, the Australian Crime Commission, NSW Crime Commission and Australian Customs Service.

The ICTF is hosted by the Australian Federal Police at the AFP Sydney Headquarters.

“This is another outstanding example of law enforcement agencies co-operating closely, sharing their expertise and resources, to achieve an important outcome,” Senator Ellison said.

Media inquiries: Duncan Bremner (02) 6277 7260 0409 003 084