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Police charge Brisbane accountant over multimillion-dollar scheme

The Advertiser 2020-08-20 07:24:00

A Brisbane accountant turned “money mule” has been charged with money laundering after police linked her to duping individuals and businesses out of more than $3.3 million that was sent offshore.

The 65-year-old woman was arrested after Queensland police carried out a search warrant at a Carina address this week, where they found a number of computers and mobile phones allegedly used to facilitate money laundering.

At least seven businesses and individuals are believed to have been impacted, with one business losing $1.1 million to the scheme.

The businesses are understood to include aged care providers and a superannuation fund.

While the investigation, in partnership with AFP is ongoing, Detective Inspector Vince Byrnes said it appeared the woman had fraudulently obtained funds by way of business email compromise into at least 50 Australian bank accounts before siphoning the money offshore.

Det Insp Byrnes said it was fundamental the community was aware of emailed invoices.

“This occurs when fake invoices are issued or real invoices are intercepted and bank details are changed,” he said.

“To reduce victimisation, always check details. If there is variation … verify with the vendor.”

Detective Senior Constable Adrian Holt was part of the team that sought to uncover the accountant’s alleged role in the laundering scheme, and said at least seven businesses and individuals had been impacted.

“This woman was totally unrelated to the victims,” he said.

It’s understood the woman would receive instructions from hackers via the internet, and investigations will reveal the role she allegedly played in the organisation of the criminal activity.

“The money would then come into the accounts, which would be quickly distributed (offshore) as fast as she could,” he said.

“We will allege she received information from people do the hacking … at this stage there’s indication the hackers are offshore.”

Det Insp Byrnes said the role of the money mule was imperative to a successful money laundering scheme.

“This was relentless in nature, and has a very poor effect upon our community and economy,” he said.

“Part of the investigation is to determine the distribution of these funds.”

The woman will appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on October 16 charged with multiple offences, including money laundering.

Originally published as ‘Money mule’ charged over $3.3m scam