A couple from Australia alleged to be involved in many credit card related thefts and siphoning off AUD 300,000 were arrested earlier on Thursday morning. The couple apparently used the cryptocurrencies to launder the money to offshore crypto-accounts.


Details of the Incident

A couple of Lebanese origins were arrested from south-west Sydney, Australia by the NSW Cybercrime Squad and are alleged to have used stolen credit card information to open 15 companies and numerous bank accounts. An amount of AUD 300,000 was apparently converted to cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and laundered by the couple to offshore cryptocurrency accounts. The Public Order and Riot Squad also accompanied the Cybercrime squad when they reached the couple’s residence early on Thursday morning.

The 32-year-old man and 29-year-old woman living in Australia on bridging visas were immediately taken to the Campsie police station. The cybercriminals were identified as part of an ongoing investigation by Strike Force Breakbank, an agency launched in March this year to investigate online purchases using stolen card information.

Charges Filed

The man has been charged with 35 fraud-related offenses, six identification fraud-related offenses and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime and the woman with 12 fraud-related offenses. The woman was granted conditional bail while the man was refused bail. At the time of publishing, the man would have appeared in court and the woman is due to appear at Burwood Local Court on Tuesday, October 9th. The police have ascertained the immigration status of the couple from the Australian border force.

Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, said:

Cryptocurrencies presented a significant challenge for law enforcement both here and abroad.

He further added:

The semi-anonymous and decentralised nature of many cryptocurrencies make it desirable for criminal activity, particularly for those groups who are operating offshore.

Use of Cryptocurrencies for Cyber Crimes

This incident has once again highlighted the use of cryptocurrencies by cybercriminals for money laundering. Governments and central banks across many countries have often cited misuse by terrorists and criminals as an argument against recognizing cryptocurrency as a valid method of payment. The supporters, on the contrary, argue that such criminal activities existed even before the invention of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

The fact, however, remains that the benefits of using cryptocurrencies far outweigh the drawbacks. Better regulations, proper implementation of AML (Anti Money Laundering) and KYC (Know Your Customer) norms and a collaborative effort between the cybersecurity agencies of different countries is the need of the hour to curb such incidents.

What do you think is the impact of such cyber crimes on the adoption of cryptocurrencies as a recognized medium of exchange? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay and ShutterStock

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