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Asian crime syndicate recruited foreign students to steal and launder money

Image of casino table

An Asian crime syndicate, which included an expert forgery artist, recruited foreign students to open bank accounts, steal mail and launder stolen cash. The students were among a number of third parties, also referred to as ‘runners’, enlisted to commit crimes for the syndicate.

The scam began with the theft of cheques and credit cards from private mailboxes. The stolen documents were altered to create forgeries of sufficient quality to deceive bank tellers. The foreign students would deposit the cheques into their own bank accounts or accounts set up using false names.

When a cheque cleared, the money was withdrawn and gambled at casinos to mix or co-mingle it with legitimate cash – a common money laundering methodology.

An investigation uncovered more than 350 falsely named bank accounts that had more than AUD8 million laundered through them. Suspicious matter reports (SMRs) submitted by banks indicated that one member of the syndicate had made regular deposits below the AUD10,000 threshold for reporting cash transactions to AUSTRAC.

One suspect was arrested and charged with eight counts of dealing with the proceeds of theft. The individual had allegedly stolen a cheque for more than AUD500,000 from a deceased estate. The individual attempted to launder the proceeds of the fraudulently obtained cheque through a casino.

A second suspect was arrested and charged with six offences, including making a false document to obtain a financial advantage. A third suspect was also arrested and charged with identity fraud and money laundering offences.

Case 15 – Asian crime syndicate recruited foreign students to steal and launder money

Case 15 – Asian crime syndicate recruited foreign students to steal and launder money


  • Fraud
  • Money laundering




  • Banking (ADIs)
  • Gambling services



Report type




Designated service

  • Account and deposit-taking services
  • Gambling services


  • Customer making large cheque deposits despite having no known source of income
  • Customer undertaking transactions that appear inconsistent with their profile and transaction history
  • Large-value cheque deposits into newly opened, or student, bank accounts followed by immediate cash withdrawals once cleared
  • Structuring of cash deposits to avoid reporting requirements
  • Use of false identification to open bank accounts and conduct transactions
Last modified: 30/07/2015 15:43