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Police are increasingly focusing on corrupt business identities and public sector workers as they seek to turn up the pressure on organised crime networks.

The Serious Organised Crime Strategy 2011-2014, which is due to be publicly released soon, highlights identity theft, money laundering, technological crime, public sector corruption and weak legislation as the key facilitators of organised crime.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Anticich said police believed the weakest links in hardened organised crime circles were people who have legitimate jobs and businesses but were driven by greed to help criminals.

He said it was those people who police hoped to persuade to co-operate and collaborate in order to bring down organised crime operations in the state.

Police efforts will be helped by new co-operations between different police departments and outside agencies, which are outlined in the strategy.

Already a 12-month operation involving the Australian Taxation Office has targeted legitimate legal, financial and business professionals believed to be helping underworld figures launder money in WA.

The ongoing operation has identified up to $40 million in undeclared income, which police suspect is at the heart of mafia-style operations involving property deals, share trading and superannuation investments.

Aside from the ATO, WA police are now tapped into more national agencies’ networks than ever before, including that of the Australian Federal Police, Australian Securities and Investment Commission, AUSTRAC and eastern states police forces, Mr Anticich said.

He said the strategy was about getting specialists in each field to form “Strike Force” teams to target specific crimes.

This would see teams built to investigate crimes, compared to the previous approach when police would mostly operate on a lone basis and cases would be assigned to a single specialist squad.

Organised crime was considered responsible for the illicit drug trade, counterfeit goods, illegal firearms, extortion/kidnapping, child sex offences, sexual servitude and people trafficking, as well as insurance, welfare, investment and card fraud in WA.

“We want to cause people to think twice before engaging in that type of occupation,” Mr Anticich said.

He said in most cases legitimate operators displayed a “wilful blindness” or were simply driven by the desire for power in complying with such crimes.

However police would now utilise legislation and greater powers provided through the Corruption and Crime Commission to create a “hostile environment” for crime networks.

Already houses have been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act after they were found to be used for manufacturing drugs, particularly growing cannabis.

Mr Anticich said police were planning to take the approach a step further and were currently working with state prosecutors on legislation surrounding the issue of unexplained wealth.

He said although the legislation had been sparingly used in the past, they were now trying to formulate ways to better utilise it in order to get more convictions.

“You may get rich quickly (through organised crime) but there’s a greater risk of getting locked-up and more chance of losing everything you have,” he said.

The strategy launch coincides with the release of the Australian Crime Commission’s Organised Crime in Australia report in Melbourne today.

“If the North Atrium of Federation Square were filled with $100 notes it would amount to $15 billion – that’s what Australians are losing to organised crime every year. It’s an enormous sum,” Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor said.

“We know that money is the lifeblood of organised crime and if we can stop the money flow we can stop organised criminals in their tracks.

“Organised Crime in Australia covers many different types of offences committed by organised crime but there’s one common factor – greed.

“Whether it’s amphetamine production, money laundering, online scams, corruption, fraud, identity crime or people smuggling – it’s all about the money for these criminal syndicates. If there is an opportunity to make money, organised criminals will try to exploit it.

Organised Crime in Australia provides government, industry and the public with the information they need to better understand and respond to the threat of organised crime – now and into the future.”

The unclassified report is drawn from information gathered from the Australian Crime Commission’s Commonwealth, state and territory partner agencies.

The ACC has produced two other similar reports since 2008, but this edition is the most comprehensive profile of organised crime in Australia to date. It includes the characteristics of those involved, what drives them and the activities they are involved in.

“Revealing these details for the first time is about being open with the Australian people and sharing what we’ve learned about organised crime operations in Australia,” Mr O’Connor said.

Australian Crime Commission CEO John Lawler said it was “essential reading for Australian businesses and communities”.

CYBERCRIME ON THE INCREASE WITH SOME COUNTRIES HAVING LITTLE ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURES IN PLACE

THE Australian Federal Police has warned that online attacks on companies are becoming more common, in the wake of the offshore cyber attack that forced the ANZ and St George banks to shut down their online broking sites.

ANZ’s E*Trade was bombarded by millions of emails in a denial of service attack, forcing it to shut the site to some users for up to two weeks over the Christmas-New Year period. St George’s directshares, which is provided by E*Trade, was also affected.

An AFP spokeswoman said while it did not have an active investigation into the attack on the broking sites, ”the AFP has been working closely with E*Trade throughout the denial of service attack”.

”Online attacks are becoming more common as organised criminal gangs and motivated individuals understand the technology of the internet and take advantage of the anonymity that comes with it,” she said.

”These groups can operate from countries with less developed legal frameworks and are increasingly sophisticated, operating from a high level of technical ability.

”The ability for criminals to use technology to commit crime, attack critical infrastructure, engage in terrorist activity and undermine national security is a very real threat.”

The scope of the threat was highlighted last month in the report 2012 Threats Predictions by security technology company, McAfee. Threats ranged from ”hactivism” – the targeting of business sites for political ends – to the vulnerability of customers using mobile devices and smartphones for banking.

”Attackers have adapted quickly to every change intended to secure banking on PCs. As we use our mobile devices ever more for banking, we will see attackers bypass PCs and go straight after mobile banking apps,” the report said.

”Hactivism” came to prominence during 2010 when activists launched denial-of-service attacks on Paypal, Visa and Mastercard, in retaliation for their refusal to process business for WikiLeaks, a move that was financially crippling the whistleblower site.

”When hactivists picked a target, that target was compromised either through a data breach or a denial of service. They are a credible force,” McAfee said.

”It is not hard to predict the evolution of the Occupy [movement] and other outraged groups to include more direct digital actions. The possibility of mating hactivist goals with industrial controller or SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] systems is a very real possibility.”

It said industrial and national infrastructure faced more frequent attacks, aided by the inherent weaknesses in the industrial controller systems technology. And with a nod to ”cyber armies” operating out of totalitarian countries, it predicted 2012 would be the ”Year for Cyberwar”.

The AFP spokeswoman said she could not speculate on who was behind the attack on the broking sites. She confirmed that the AFP had not received referrals from other financial institutions during the denial-of-service attack.


Perth accountant Trevor Thomson

jailed for $27m fraud in an

Australian  scheme to defraud

the Commonwealth

A PERTH accountant has been sentenced to 13 months jail for his part in a $27 million tax fraud.

Trevor Neil Thomson, 57, of South Perth, was sentenced by the WA Supreme Court  after admitting to conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth.

Australian Crime Commission executive director of serious organised crime Michael Outram said Thomson illegally conspired with others to evade paying between $25.78 million and $27.68 million in tax, involving family trusts, between 1999 and 2001.

“Through the use of false documents, Mr Thomson deliberately attempted to hide profits generated by his clients’ businesses and knowingly misled the Australian Government to ensure his clients did not pay their required tax,” Mr Outram said in a statement.

“Accountants and lawyers who help clients evade their tax responsibility by using complicated, deceptive schemes such as this one, will be investigated and prosecuted.”

Thomson was arrested as part of Project Wickenby, conducted jointly by the Australian Tax Office, Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo said the Commission would continue to crack down on undeclared offshore accounts.

“Our ability to trace fund flows around the world is constantly expanding and we are identifying transactions and participants in abusive secrecy haven schemes,” Mr D’Ascenzo said in a statement.

“This sentencing sends a clear message to participants and promoters of complex offshore schemes that they will face serious consequences.”

Thomson was given a “significant reduction” in his sentence, for entering an early guilty plea and co-operating with authorities.

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Crime news from around the world. Easy access to reported crimes & data.

We often have a need to access files on a plethara of criminal activities that involve not only habitual crimes of various descriptions but those of impulsive one off actions that result in a crime being committed by an individual in an unintentional or negligent way.

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