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Aussie Police Charge 4 Chinese Men in an AU$100M FX/Crypto Scam

by Arnab Shome
  • The four defendants registered companies in Australia and opened bank accounts for money laundering.
  • Most of the victims of the scam are in the United States.
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The authorities in Australia have charged four Chinese nationals based in Sydney in an investigation against an organized crime syndicate that ran forex and cryptocurrency trading scams, stealing more than AU$100 million globally.

Most victims of the massive scam are based in the United States. However, the scammers operated from their bases in Australia. The investigation and arrests by the Aussie authorities came after the United States Secret Service (USSS) notified of the Australia-links of the US-based in August 2022.

Announced on Friday, the four men, two 19-year-olds (one in their mid-20s and the other 27 years old) have been charged with criminal offences. All of them are registered companies with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC ) for enhancing the legitimate appearance of fraudulent operations. They also established bank accounts for laundering illegal proceeds.

Two of the four arrested Chinese nationals were nabbed at the airports when trying to flee Australia for Hong Kong with a one-way air ticket.

Apart from the arrests, the Aussie authorities seized AU$22.5 million held in 24 bank accounts allegedly linked to the criminal syndicate.

Highly-Sophisticated Scam

The perpetrators ran a highly-sophisticated scam and used unnamed legitimate electronic trading platforms to offer fraudulent services. The concerns around fraudsters' use of legitimate white-label trading platforms also surfaced when Apple, earlier this year, banned two applications of MetaQuotes from App Store.

Moreover, the Australian Federal Police elaborated that the scammers used a mix of sophisticated social engineering to gain victims. They targeted victims dating sites, employment sites and messaging platforms before pitching the fraudulent investment opportunities. The victims were directed to both fraudulent and legitimate investment applications. The operators of fraudulent platforms showed manipulated market data to encourage victims to make further investments.

Investment scams are rampant across the globe. Australians alone lost more than AU$158 million in such fraud in the first five months of 2022, according to data collated by Scamwatch.

"It is essential people exercise the utmost caution if cold-approached online or on the phone by people trying to sell financial or investment services. Criminals are ruthless and will stop at nothing to take your money," said AFP's Cybercrime Operations Eastern Command Detective Sergeant, Salam Zreika.

"Refrain from investing in foreign exchange, crypto-currency, or speculative investments with people you've only ever encountered in the online environment. If you are unsure, get a second opinion from a professional, in-person."

The authorities in Australia have charged four Chinese nationals based in Sydney in an investigation against an organized crime syndicate that ran forex and cryptocurrency trading scams, stealing more than AU$100 million globally.

Most victims of the massive scam are based in the United States. However, the scammers operated from their bases in Australia. The investigation and arrests by the Aussie authorities came after the United States Secret Service (USSS) notified of the Australia-links of the US-based in August 2022.

Announced on Friday, the four men, two 19-year-olds (one in their mid-20s and the other 27 years old) have been charged with criminal offences. All of them are registered companies with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC ) for enhancing the legitimate appearance of fraudulent operations. They also established bank accounts for laundering illegal proceeds.

Two of the four arrested Chinese nationals were nabbed at the airports when trying to flee Australia for Hong Kong with a one-way air ticket.

Apart from the arrests, the Aussie authorities seized AU$22.5 million held in 24 bank accounts allegedly linked to the criminal syndicate.

Highly-Sophisticated Scam

The perpetrators ran a highly-sophisticated scam and used unnamed legitimate electronic trading platforms to offer fraudulent services. The concerns around fraudsters' use of legitimate white-label trading platforms also surfaced when Apple, earlier this year, banned two applications of MetaQuotes from App Store.

Moreover, the Australian Federal Police elaborated that the scammers used a mix of sophisticated social engineering to gain victims. They targeted victims dating sites, employment sites and messaging platforms before pitching the fraudulent investment opportunities. The victims were directed to both fraudulent and legitimate investment applications. The operators of fraudulent platforms showed manipulated market data to encourage victims to make further investments.

Investment scams are rampant across the globe. Australians alone lost more than AU$158 million in such fraud in the first five months of 2022, according to data collated by Scamwatch.

"It is essential people exercise the utmost caution if cold-approached online or on the phone by people trying to sell financial or investment services. Criminals are ruthless and will stop at nothing to take your money," said AFP's Cybercrime Operations Eastern Command Detective Sergeant, Salam Zreika.

"Refrain from investing in foreign exchange, crypto-currency, or speculative investments with people you've only ever encountered in the online environment. If you are unsure, get a second opinion from a professional, in-person."

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