One of the world’s largest scam syndicates that swindled $1bn from unwitting investors has been busted by an Australian cybercrime expert.
NSW-based investigator Ken Gamble told 2GB on Monday that after three years investigators had finally cracked the elaborate boiler room scam, which used high-intensity sales tactics through call centres to persuade investors to buy shares in fake companies.
The IFW Global chairman said it was a “great feeling” to finally close out the years-long investigation, which led to the arrest of at least 80 people across the globe – including the kingpin of the operation – as well as threats to his own life.
“We started this investigation in 2020 when we were first tipped off about this group,” Mr Gamble said.
“We knew who (the syndicate) were for a long time, but we couldn't pinpoint where their offices were. That’s what took a lot of work.
“Someone said to me in 2020, ‘You will never get this syndicate, they are so heavily protected’.
“I was warned to not go near this operation because it would put my life in danger.”
Mr Gamble said in the early stages of the investigation, investigators discovered that a lot of the money that was conned from investors – thinking it was being invested as company shares – was actually going through Hong Kong and Chinese bank accounts.
“There were literally hundreds of accounts in major Chinese banks,” Mr Gamble said.
“So, we started looking into the banking and got court orders to trace the money.
“It was being sent out to Thailand and Singapore, where it was getting cashed out in banks and transferred by land into Malaysia.”
From there, Mr Gamble said it was up to “good old-fashioned detective work” to track down the physical location of the crime gang.
Once Covid restrictions lifted, he flew into Malaysia with the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission to finally smash the syndicate.
The heavily armed unit mounted raids across the country at the syndicate’s secret offices, finally capturing the culprits of the insidious scam.
After three years, Mr Gamble was hopeful Australians may now get their money back.
“Over $4.3mn was seized during the operation and 54 bank accounts frozen,” he said.
“This is the greatest chance we will ever have because of the amount of law enforcement involved in the operation.
“This is one of the most devastating types of crimes because it leaves the victims in financial and emotional ruin. It ruins them for life.”
Despite help from international law enforcement, Mr Gamble said there was a “stonewall” among Australian authorities when it came to international fraud.
“The (Australian authorities) have never wanted to take them (international fraud cases),” Mr Gamble said.
“State and federal police just don’t investigate overseas matters that involve this type of financial crime gangs, they just don’t do it.”
Mr Gamble said investigations were still ongoing.