FRAUD cases are stretching inner-west police resources to the limit.
Newtown police crime prevention officer Senior Constable John Tikisci said mail and identity fraud had been “going through the roof in the last five years”.
“Police resources are tied up with preventable fraud matters when they can be directed towards reducing domestic violence and alcohol-related crimes which have a greater impact on victims health and wellbeing,” he said.
Despite fraud offences dropping statewide, almost 3300 fraud offences were recorded across the inner west last year, with Marrickville topping the list of local LGAs with a whopping 771 cases.
They were among three inner-west areas in the top 10 for fraud offences across the state, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Burwood was ranked number two on percentage of population, followed by Strathfield at three and Marrickville at seven.
The majority of the crimes recorded in the data were credit card fraud using paypass or card skimming devices and identity fraud, whereby criminals steal mobile phones and personal data by porting their mobile number and working remotely.
Detective Chief Inspector Matt Craft of the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad said the problem was prolific.
“This isn’t a problem we can arrest our way out of,” he said.
“Ten-15 years ago these criminals would have been doing break and enters but now they have migrated to fraud and identity crime.
“Essentially it is easier for them and less risky. They could be sitting on a beach in Perth doing it or in the middle of the CBD — it is borderless.”
But Det-Insp Craft said the Fraud Squad was working towards implementing major changes.
“With fraud we are never going to win unless we work with other industries,” he said.
“We have a very good relationship with the banks now, who are trying to make it as hard as possible for offenders.
“We have also started to focus on porting numbers — we have an actual working group which involves the telcos coming together to work out a solution to phone porting.”
Sen-Const Tikisci said fraud was one of the only crimes on the rise.
“People don’t have to break into people’s homes or businesses and do armed robberies when they can go and steal credit cards from letterboxes and get $10,000 for very little effort,” he said.
“Your driver’s licence, passport, Medicare card and credit card are sent through the mail. All you need is 100 points (of identification) and you can steal someone else’s identity and buy whatever you want.
“What ends up happening is that’s a $300 fraud (for the victim) that can cost thousands of dollars in police investigation time and resources.”
Sen-Const Tikisci said it was frustrating when hundreds of millions of dollars were lost to fraud and tens of millions were spent on security and police investigations.
“A credit card sent through registered mail costs about $4 and I personally would be happy to wear the fee of getting my card delivered by registered mail if the bank didn’t want to incur the cost,” he said.
“The cost of fraud is not just a financial one to institutions and police (paid by the tax payer), but has the biggest impact on the victim who might end up with a blacklist on their credit rating at no fault of their own.
“People should look at getting a PO Box or request to pick up mail with identification documents.”
- Treat your credit cards as if they were cash
- Put heavy duty locks on your mailbox
- Clear your mail out every day
- Do not leave phones or bags unattended
- Check for credit card skimming devices in taxis
- Always ask for a receipt if you are suspicious
- Avoid credit cards without a chip
Canada Bay: 698
*Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
Source: Daily Telegraph