Disruption of cybercrime activity is one of the most effective strategies to prevent victimisation and reduce levels of community harm.
It is critical to stop cybercriminals before they cause more harm, to more people.
Not all cybercrime offenders can be brought before Victorian courts, either because they are as yet unidentified or are overseas. In these cases, Victoria Police will disrupt the crime to protect the community.
Disruption is achieved when intentional action leads to an offender being unable to operate at its usual level of activity, or when the number of future victims is reduced, for a period of time.
Cybercrime disruption can involve a range of activities, including:
- Reducing the availability/scale of digital infrastructure, and denying offenders the ability to relocate or rebuild, such as account take overs or disabling digital forums or necessary cybercrime infrastructure.
- Denying offenders the financial proceeds of cybercrime.
- Covert online activities to infiltrate cybercrime operations.
Ethical disruption of criminal activity is a core element of Victoria Police’s prevention and response functions.
Victoria Police already uses disruption for a range of technology-enabled offences, such as online child abuse.
We will continue to enhance our policing capabilities and work with our national and international law enforcement partners to ensure that we can disrupt existing and emerging types of cyber-dependent and technology-enabled crime. We will pursue disruption activity that is appropriate and effective.
In January 2021, a Victorian company contracted an overseas company to install fittings at a new construction site and arranged to pay for the upcoming work. They received emails instructing them to make the payments to another bank account. The company confirmed the account details via email, but email accounts at both companies had been compromised. Offenders registered fake domain names for both companies, which resulted in emails going to the cybercriminals. Almost AUD$3.6 million was sent to an account in a third country.
The contractor uncovered the deception when they telephoned to query not receiving the funds. The Victorian company reported to their bank and via ReportCyber, which referred the report to Victoria Police for investigation as part of the national BEC taskforce. Working with international partners, approximately $900,000 was recovered and a suspect overseas is under investigation.
In August-2021, the Victoria Police Cybercrime Squad identified and arrested an alleged mule handler in Victoria who ran mules across three states.
Funds from BEC are often transferred into accounts of money mules or opened as a result of identity takeovers. Mule handlers assist the mule to exchange the stolen funds into gold bullion, cryptocurrencies, international money transfers or luxury goods to launder the proceeds of crime.A 'money mule' is a person who receives money from a third party in their bank account and transfers it to another account, or withdraws it in cash to give someone else, often obtaining a commission for their efforts.
- Continue to build capability to work with our interstate, national and international partners to pursue tactical, high-impact offshore and onshore disruption activities.
- Continue to use the most contemporary policing techniques to disrupt cybercrime.
- Continue to invest in our specialist capabilities for cybercrime disruption through targeted, alternative recruitment pathways and professional development strategies.
- Ensure we have the right standards, oversight and accountability, and public reassurance for cybercrime disruptions.
- Pursue new and innovative partnerships with industry to disrupt cybercrime.
- We disrupt and prevent instances of victimisation and reduce levels of cybercrime harm affecting the Victorian community.
What will success look like?
- Victoria Police disrupts cybercrime and reduces its harm to the Victorian community.
- Victoria Police continue to coordinate with other law enforcement agencies to pursue tactical, high-impact disruption activities.
- Victoria Police works proactively with industry to pursue disruption activities.
Reviewed 15 November 2022