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$2.1 MILLION SCAM: Sydney man, woman allegedly sent fake invoices

Arrest in West Lidcombe. (Image: NSW Police)

A Sydney man and woman has been charged for allegedly stealing $2.1 million from two businesses.

Early last year, NSW Police received a report that a construction company was duped into paying an almost-$1.4 million invoice to a person pretending to represent one of their contractors.

The person allegedly sent an email saying that the contractor had new banking details, which actually pointed to the sender’s own bank account.

Police allege $30,000 of the stolen funds were used to buy a car, some of it was sent overseas, and some of it transferred to another Australian account.

A second tip-off saw an education college tricked the same way, by a person pretending to be the financial administrator of a building contractor.

That incident saw more than $700,000 paid into the personal account. Of that, $600,000 was allegedly sent overseas.

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Last Thursday, police raided a residence in West Lidcombe in western Sydney, arresting a 47-year-old woman.

During the raid, police seized 10 mobile phones, seven SIM cards, computers, electronic storage devices and financial documentation.

Weapons such as nunchakus, swords and knives were also confiscated, as well as cannabis.

Then on Friday, a 57-year-old man was arrested at a Brighton-le-Sands home.

How to avoid getting scammed

Cybercrime Squad commander Matt Craft said business email scams are emerging as a new threat.

“While there are many variations of the scam, in general terms, it involves a ‘spoofed’ or compromised email account of a corporate executive or employee, which is used to send email requests to accounts payable employees to change banking details for receipt of payments.”

He urged businesses to tell their staff to confirm any banking changes with a return phone call to a supplier.

“These types of scams are somewhat complex to execute, but very simple to prevent through education and the development of standard procedures for accounting staff,” he said.

“There is almost always a ‘tell’; we urge all businesses to ensure their accounts teams are vigilant when dealing with requests to vary account details or payment methods.”

Burwood Local Court granted strict conditional bail for the woman, who’s scheduled to re-appear on May 8. The man was also granted conditional bail and will appear at Sutherland Local Court on April 9.

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