Australian Federal Police (AFP) have arrested four suspected members of a financial investment scam syndicate believed to have stolen $100 million from victims around the world.
The four people arrested are Chinese nationals living in Sydney. AFP began investigating them following information from the US Secret Service (USSS).
According to the police announcement, the four men had ties to a US-based scam that US law enforcement has been investigating since August 2022.
“An analysis of police victim reports identified over $100 million in losses worldwide attributed to this organized crime syndicate, with the majority of victims based in the United States,” read the ad.
The first two arrests took place on October 20, 2022, at the home of the 19-year-old men, who are charged with violations of Section 193B(3) of the Crimes Act 1900.
The other two individuals were arrested by AFP agents on November 24, 2022, at Sydney and Melbourne airports as they attempted to flee to Hong Kong with one-way tickets.
These two men, aged 24 and 27, would have taken on a more senior role in the hierarchy, acting as “controllers” of the union in Australia.
They now face criminal charges related to violations of section 400.2B(4) of the Criminal Code, which carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The four cybercriminal gang members are due to appear in Downing Center Local Court in January 2023.
AFP claims the investment scam group manipulated legitimate electronic trading platforms in combination with “pig cutting”.
Victims are tricked into thinking that they are making large sums of money, get tricked into investing even more, and eventually find out that they cannot withdraw money to their virtual balance.
The criminal network used job sites, messaging platforms and dating sites to approach victims and gain their trust before they were directed to fake investment sites.
Scammers have also used legitimate platforms to create a false sense of authenticity for fakes.
Additionally, the arrested men even registered companies with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which licenses forex brokers who then provide software to their clients.
This further helped scammers in their efforts to convince victims that they were investing their money in genuine and trustworthy platforms.
Don’t get slaughtered
Whenever you are approached with an investment opportunity, remember that there is no guaranteed return, so if that promise is involved, it’s probably a scam.
If a stranger or old acquaintance approaches you on social media, treat them with suspicion. They may spend long periods building a relationship with you before presenting an investment opportunity.
Fake investment apps also usually generate warnings about antivirus tools because they are not digitally signed or released by a legitimate software provider.
Finally, before depositing money on a site, verify that the platform is legit by performing a thorough internet background check.