BIKIES, drug bosses and terrorists are taking over the identities of innocent people using fake NSW driver’s licences and Medicare cards to carry out crimes and avoid police detection.
A joint investigation by NSW and federal police, called Project Birrie, has for the first time established the links between identity fraud and serious crimes from 1710 fake documents found on a hard drive inside a Sydney house and painstakingly traced to uncover what they were used for.
They ran the names against 11 federal databases and found the fake identities were used by 29 major crime figures and 13 known bikies, as well as being used to move $57 million in illegal money offshore.
A number of the ID cards were linked to suspected terrorists and others to illegal immigrants who had overstayed their visas.
They were also used in hundreds of frauds, ranging from a $185 credit card purchase to an eBay scam worth $5.3 million.
“That was traced from just one computer hard drive from one Sydney syndicate specialising in fake identities,’’ Detective Chief Inspector Matt Craft of the NSW Police Fraud and Cybercrime Squad told The Daily Telegraph.
“There were a number ofother computers inside the premises which also contained fake identities so that figure could be multiplied a number of times.”
Project Birrie was carried out by the Federal Fraud Anti-corruption Centre with intelligence gathered from Operation Arkanis, an 18-month investigation into Steven Zhong, the mastermind behind a syndicate mass-producing fake documents who is now in jail.
“This is the first time anyone has done an analysis of the true impact of fake identities,’’ anti-fraud investigator Commander Peter Crozier said. “The extent and effect on the community is breathtaking. One in 14 identity victims are then accused of a crime they didn’t commit.’’
A set of three ID cards — a driver’s licence, Medicare card and credit card — sells for between $1600 and $2500. Licences costs just $400.
“Criminals use the cards and licences to buy glassware and other products for drug manufacturing and to hire vehicles to transport drugs, lease homes and other illegal activity,’’ Insp Craft said.
He said clients supply photos of themselves to the syndicate, which then puts them on counterfeit cards imported from China.
“Since the arrests (of Zhong and his gang), a document verification system has been introduced by the federal government and has been very successful in making bank and credit card fraud harder when you use a fictitious name.
“There is a shift now towards total identity takeovers rather than using non-existent names. This is often done by stealing mail and using those details with a person’s photo on it to do an identity takeover.’’
Source: The Daily Telegraph