Three women and four men were arrested in Sydney on Wednesday, 29 November, as part of a joint investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and NSW Police.
Police alleged the group formed a sophisticated network, whereby they would steal mail including bank cards and financial information, and then impersonate those account holders to obtain fraudulent credit cards.
These cards were then used to make cash withdrawals and purchase goods from unsuspecting businesses.
“Further investigations revealed the group engaged an employee of a Commonwealth government agency, who was allegedly providing identity information accessed without authorisation, in return for cash,” the AFP said in a statement.
All seven individuals are expected to be charged with a range of offences, including fraud and identity theft, while the female employee of the Department of Human Services will be charged bribery offences.
“Any allegation of an individual using and abusing their position of trust is a cause of great concern,” said Detective Superintendent Brett James of the AFP’s Organised and Cyber Crime division.
“Criminal networks will seek to exploit any vulnerability they can. When considering the scale and prevalence of identity crime in Australia – with one in five Australians having been a victim at some point in their lives – it’s not surprising these networks will try any means they can to prey on everyday people.”