Online scams bankroll terror cells

27 Feb 2016

A cyber fraud expert who helped bust sophisticated “boiler room” syndicates has warned authorities about terrorists setting up online scams to raise money for criminal cells.

IFW Global Investigations executive chairman Ken Gamble helped hunt down Peter Foster after he allegedly defrauded victims of up to $11.5 million through his Sports Trading Club scam.

The security specialist provided evidence to Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission detailing former detective Mick Featherstone’s alleged involvement in an alleged $20 million scam. Featherstone — a former Surfers Paradise CIB detective boss — was arrested alongside wife Zoei and son Zach on Wednesday over their roles in allegedly defrauding up to 600 victims through multiple scam companies.

Mr Gamble said cyber crime was “out of control”, and that there was evidence of cash passing between groups in The Philippines, where he is based, and Indonesia.

“Cyber crime is out of control. It’s the greatest source of income for organised crime in the world. The potential for terrorist organisations to use it is massive,” Mr Gamble said.

“What I’ve recommended (to Australian authorities) is that they need a specific anti-fraud taskforce to target cyber fraud.”

The Gold Coast has emerged as one of the nation’s “boiler room” hot spots. New players are predicted to replace syndicates closed down by police.

Queensland police have shut down outlaw motorcycle gang scams that had targeted victims through promotion of online trials of investment and sports prediction software. After initially promising hefty returns, the companies are shut down and victims are left out of pocket.

The Weekend Australian can reveal crime organisations now are setting up in Surfers Paradise apartments running smaller operations, staying away from commercial premises to avoid detection.

Mr Gamble, who operates Gamble Investigations International, said prominent Melbourne mafia figures were among the first to embrace the money-making scams.

“It’s a classic clone of what happened with the mafia in the US; they moved away from traditional racketeering and murder for hire into online crime.

“It’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Australia.”

Mr Gamble is pursuing Foster on behalf of 165 alleged victims. Foster’s victims have obtained orders to freeze various bank accounts worth up to $9 million in Vanuatu and the Cayman Islands. Foster allegedly offered $80,000 to have Mr Gamble killed in Manila. Police raided Foster’s homes last December in relation to the alleged death threat and seized phones.

The 53-year-old was released from prison last October after his lawyers made secret submissions to the Federal Court.

Source: The Australian

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