The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is prosecuting a key member of a criminal syndicate involved in large-scale crypto fraud. | Image: Shutterstock
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that a 21-year-old mother has been arrested following an investigation into an online syndicate accused of stealing and laundering millions of dollars worth of funds from superannuation and share-trading accounts through the use of cryptocurrency.
ASIC alleges that the suspect, Jasmine Vella-Arpaci, comprised a key member of a criminal syndicate self-identified as ‘Team Awesome’. The group is accused of purchasing identity documents and related sensitive information on the dark web, before using such to open fraudulent bank accounts. At least 70 fraudulent bank accounts have been identified to have been opened by the syndicate.
Once the bank accounts were created, the cybercriminals allegedly used the compromised identities to steal funds from the victims’ superannuation and share-trading accounts. The stolen funds were then laundered via an associate in Hong Kong through purchasing untraceable assets including jewelry.
Mrs. Vella-Arpaci made her first court appearance Tuesday. She faces 53 counts of fraud and theft, including multiple offenses of conspiring to cause unauthorized access and/or modification of data; conspiring to dishonestly obtain property by deception, dealing in proceeds of crime valued at AU$100,000 or more; dealing in personal identification information; and multiple offences of dealing in personal financial information.
The investigations leading to her arrest lasted over one year and saw assistance provided by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Investigations into the Team Awesome syndicate are currently ongoing, with ASIC refusing to rule out the possibility that more arrests may soon take place.