The New South Wales Police Force have placed two Sydney residents in custody after they allegedly attempted to launder $300,000 in cash that was suspected to be involved in a string of crimes, by converting them into crypto.
Criminal Crypto Converting Couple Charged
NSW Police Cybercrime Squad detectives arrested an unidentified male, age 32, and an unnamed female, age 29, at their Wiley Park residence, over money laundering charges. The pair were also charged with alleged ID fraud.
Detectives say the cybercrime duo had started up 45 different companies and opened a number of bank accounts to receive fiat deposits. The deposits were related to “purchases being made online using stolen and fraudulently obtained credit card information,” NSW Police explained, reports itnews.
According to the investigation – dubbed Strike Force Breabank – the two suspects would then move the fiat into cryptocurrencies that were later sent to offshore cryptocurrency wallets. Criminals often move funds into decentralized cryptocurrencies due to their difficult to trace, pseudo-anonymous design. Another practice involves moving the crypto into other types of cryptocurrencies to further hide any trace of the origin of funds.
“Police will further allege in court more than $300,000 was transferred to digital currency and distributed into cryptocurrency accounts offshore,” the police said in a statement.
During the search of the perpetrators home, New South Wales police seized everything from laptops and personal computers, to external hard drives, mobile phones, and even documentation that may be used as evidence in court against the suspects.
Police said they were checking on the couple’s immigration status, which could be why the unnamed man was refused bail, and is set to appear in court on Friday, September 28. The female accomplice, however, was granted “strict conditional bail” and will appear in Burwood Local Court later in October.
Australian Authorities Call Crypto a “Significant Challenge”
Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, Commander of the New South Wales Cybercrime Squad, called cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum “a significant challenge for law enforcement both here and abroad,” in reference to cryptocurrencies being used for money laundering and other cybercrimes.
“The semi-anonymous and decentralised nature of many cryptocurrencies make it desirable for criminal activity, particularly for those groups who are operating offshore,” Katsoginannis explained.
Katsoginannis continued, suggesting he and his team have an edge in monitoring and investigating illicit transactions thanks to cryptocurrency exchanges in the region falling under the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).
“The sharing of financial intelligence and information of all currencies can only help to minimise the risk of criminal groups conducting ‘business’ without detection,” Katsoginannis said.
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