Cybercriminals stop stealing tens of millions of dollars as AFP launches new cyber punch

AFP has stopped cybercriminals from stealing $ 24 million from the retirement accounts of hard-working Australians and launched several counterattacks to prevent millions more from being siphoned off abroad.

Today, AFP can reveal details of cybercrime operations that have prevented significant losses of businesses and individuals, including elderly Australians who donated hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It comes as Home Secretary Karen Andrews today announces the Joint Cybercrime Policing Coordination Center – JPC3 – which will be operational from March 2022.

“By cracking down on cybercrime and strengthening the country’s cybersecurity, the Morrison government is protecting Australians and securing our economic recovery,” said Minister Andrews.

“This AFP-led cybercrime hub will be state-of-the-art and ensure Australia is the world leader in cybersecurity.

“Australians work hard for their money and AFP works tirelessly to prevent cybercriminals from scamming, stealing and defrauding them.

“JPC3 will step up our efforts to seize money and property from criminals, put offenders behind bars and protect Australia’s digital data.”

JPC3 will be led by well-respected Deputy Commissioner Justine Gough, who will lead a new Cyber ​​Command.

Recognizing the growing threat, Deputy Commissioner Gough will become AFP’s first full-time executive dedicated to the fight against cybercrime.

Deputy Commissioner Gough, who until recently was the Eastern Command (NSW) Deputy Commissioner responsible for cybercrime, is one of AFP’s most experienced leaders.

Deputy Commissioner Gough has been an AFP member for 31 years, holds a master’s degree in psychology and terrorism, and has taken leadership courses at the FBI National Academy in Quantico. Returning to Australia in 2019 after a four-year post as AFP’s Senior Liaison Officer in Hong Kong, Deputy Commissioner Gough has been promoted to Criminal Operations.

Deputy Commissioner Gough recently oversaw a significant number of cybercrime investigations which not only prevented Australians from losing their lives, but also intervened to prevent significant trade compromise.

As part of Operation Zinger, AFP, in collaboration with a foreign law enforcement agency, identified a criminal market specializing in the online sale of cybercrime software.

AFP has identified more than 500,000 compromised online credentials. By performing data science operations on 500 gigabytes of data, AFP was able to identify victims and perpetrators.

In May 2021, AFP worked with Australian partners and undertook an operational disruption activity.

AFP contacted 20 pension companies, facilitated the remediation of more than 25 super managed information systems allowing the protection of 681 super matched accounts attached to members and 35 super matched accounts attached to employers.

The operational activity of this AFP made it possible to prevent the loss of $ 23.9 million in retirement pensions to cybercriminals.

As part of Operation Dolos, a joint AFP and state and territory police task force focusing on commercial email compromise, several financial cybercrime channels have been launched to stop the money transfer.

Last year, Operation Dolos prevented the loss of approximately $ 8.5 million to cybercriminals.

In one case, a Canberra woman who was buying property was scammed and mistakenly transferred $ 1.03 million to a bank account controlled by criminals.

However, AFP worked closely with a major bank to hold the funds before the money could be transferred overseas.

In a similar example, an elderly woman finalizing a payment for the settlement of a property transferred $ 500,000 to a national bank account after receiving an email from a cybercriminal whom she believed to be her lawyer. When his lawyer told him the money had not been received, ReportCyber ​​was immediately notified, triggering Operation DOLOS to alert a major NAB bank.

Over 80 percent of women’s money has been recovered.

Also as part of Operation Dolos, AFP, in collaboration with international partners, was able to recover nearly $ 2 million for an Australian medical research company.

The company had a contract with a Dutch company for the installation of fittings on their new construction site.

Three payments, totaling $ 3.5 million, were made before the company realized it had been the victim of a business email compromise.

AFP was notified and was able to recover $ 1.19 million with the help of INTERPOL Hong Kong.

AFP and Victoria Police worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to identify a Canadian person involved in the compromise of the commercial email, with the Calgary Police Department later arresting the suspect.

Operation Capertee is an ongoing investigation into a large-scale and highly sophisticated syndicate using malware that may compromise the financial information of bank holders.

In 2020, AFP identified 27,000 potential victims and alerted Westpac, CBA, NAB and ANZ of a potential compromise so that preventive measures can be put in place.

Deputy Commissioner Gough said AFP cybercrime operations charged eight offenders with 21 offenses and conducted 163 disruptive activities in the past fiscal year.

“AFP, along with our partners, is disrupting highly sophisticated criminal syndicates both onshore and offshore,” Deputy Commissioner Gough said.

“AFP has investigated a wide range of cybercrime methods, with business email compromise, industry / government intrusion and malware at the top of the list.

“The investigations mainly covered the ACT, NSW, VIC and QLD jurisdictions. However, given the borderless nature of cybercrime, victims and offenders were found all around Australia.

“The JPC3, along with the new Cyber ​​Control, will work hand in hand with the Australian Signals Branch and the Home Office to help protect Australians from cybercriminals.

“This means that the AFP-led JPC3 will broadly target cybercriminals who deceive businesses by using business email compromise or trigger mass phishing attacks, which can defraud individuals by snatching personal information from them. or money. “

JPC3 will continue to work closely with the Australian Cyber ​​Security Center (ACSC), which is the Australian operational lead for cybersecurity incidents. Victims of cybercrime should report incidents through the CCAA ReportCyber ​​portal at, or continue to contact the Australian Cyber ​​Security Hotline (1300 CYBER1).

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