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Sydney man charged with stealing $100,000 by mobile identity theft

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A Sydney man has been charged for his involvement in an identity theft and fraud racket.

NSW Police on Tuesday raided two homes in Granville and Doonside in western Sydney, arresting and charging a 22-year-old man for a range of data, fraud, identity theft and criminal group participation offences.

The syndicate that he was allegedly involved in stole more than $100,000 by taking over the identity of 70 mobile phone account holders between February and September last year.

Police will submit to court that the group would first port a victim’s mobile phone number to a new telecommunications carrier to gain control of it. Then using the phone, it would gain access to the victim’s bank account after resetting passwords.

The bank account would then be registered for mobile pay apps to purchase items online or transfer cash overseas.

Cybercrime Squad commander, detective superintendent Matt Craft, said phone number porting is increasingly popular as a method of identity theft.

“We are concerned about the financial and emotional impact on victims,” he said.

“Generally speaking, the first a victim will know that their identity is being taken over is losing signal on their mobile phone, and in many cases, by the time they work out what has happened, they’ve lost access to their bank accounts and other services.”

On Tuesday’s searches, police seized mobile phones, electronic storage devices, notebook computers, identity documentation, luxury goods, electronics, clothing and banking records as potential evidence.

He said that in this day and age mobile phones are critical to a person’s financial security and any breach can be “devastating”, and urged “all industries to put the interests of the people of NSW before profit”.

“In the last 12 months, crimes enabled by phone porting have cost the community at least $10 million – and that is a conservative estimate based on what has actually been reported to police.”

The arrested man was granted bail and is due to appear in court on April 11. Strike Force Quinlan is continuing its investigations, with police saying that “further arrests are expected”.

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