Pair arrested over 'fake trader' websites

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Queensland Police Service

Queensland State Crime Command’s Financial and Cyber Crimes Group has arrested a man and a woman after conducting protracted investigation into a number of “fake trader” websites that have claimed a significant number of Queensland victims.

Operation Papa Caffeine was commenced with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) when an increased spike of fake trading websites was detected through the Australian Cyber Online Reporting Network (ACORN).

A subsequent reconciliation of ACORN reports from January 2016 to May 2017 identified over 200 complainants (Australia wide) concerning some 28 separate ‘fake trader’ websites.

It was alleged at the time that in excess of $252,000 had been defrauded.

The websites themselves appeared legitimate and advertised the heavily discounted sale of outdoor furniture, BBQs, outboard marine motors and fitness equipment.

It will be alleged that people wishing to purchase these items were asked to provide credit card details however were also offered a further discount if payment was made via direct bank to bank transfers.

Upon making payment, victims were allegedly emailed ‘invoices’ concerning their purchases and advised of a future date of delivery.

It will be further alleged that no items were delivered and customers attempting to re-contact the websites discovered either the contact numbers had been disconnected and their emails were not replied to.

A total of 45 victims to date have been identified in Queensland having been defrauded via ‘fake trader’ websites and depositing approximately $60,000.

  • A 27-year-old Latvian national man living in Norman Park was arrested and had over 45 charges preferred by detectives including multiple counts of fraud and two counts of money laundering.
  • A 25-year-old Latvian Female residing at Norman Park was arrested and had over 35 charges preferred by detectives including multiple counts of fraud.

Fraud and Cyber Crime Detective Superintendent Peter Brewer praised the work of detectives and the community.

“This arrest was the result of information provided to us by members of the public through the ACORN reporting system and we continue to encourage anyone who is effected by Cyber Crime offences to report the information on the ACORN system,” Detective Superintendent Brewer said.