January 30, 2023

Two Victorians charged in help desk scam investigation

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An international law enforcement operation has led to the arrest of two individuals from Victoria, Australia for their alleged involvement in a scam that resulted in $1 million in illicit gains. The operation, which shut down a telephone spoofing service, was a joint effort between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Metropolitan Police in London.

The service, known as iSpoof, was used by scammers to impersonate legitimate organizations such as banks and tax offices by providing spoofed phone numbers and one-time PINs. The service was first discovered by the Central Netherlands Cybercrime Team during an investigation into help desk fraud.

Further investigation revealed that iSpoof was hosted on servers located in Almere, Netherlands and its operator was based in London. The Dutch police then enlisted the help of the Metropolitan Police, leading to a larger international operation. The owner of iSpoof was arrested in London in November, and arrests were also made in Australia, the USA, Ukraine and Canada.

The AFP stated that during searches of properties in Boronia, Brighton and Brookfield, electronic devices, fake licenses, bank cards, Medicare cards, and small amounts of illicit drugs were found. A 16-year-old teenager from Brookfield and a 30-year-old man from Boronia have been charged with producing false or misleading documents and computer crimes. Both have been released on bail and are scheduled to appear in court in December 2022 and February 2023, respectively.