Australia’s most common crime has increased in sophistication, say police who busted a syndicate with piles of fake Medicare cards, drivers licences and credit cards.
The bogus documents, $60,000 in cash, printers and laminators were seized as police made four arrests during raids in Sydney last week.
Four men aged 33, 37, 44 and 50 were charged with identity theft offences.
A 51-year-old woman found to be an illegal immigrant was transferred to Villawood detention centre pending deportation.
The arrests, made across six Sydney suburbs, were the culmination of Operation Drax, a lengthy investigation into an Australian-based syndicate.
Police said the documents seized were of such high quality it was hard to tell which ones had been made based on real identities and which ones were based on imaginary people.
Commander of the NSW Police Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis said he suspected hundreds of victims were affected.
‘Once you have your identity stolen it’s very difficult to get it back,’ he said.
He said identity theft is the most common crime in Australia and that the latest haul is the tip of the iceberg.
AFP manager of criminal assets, fraud and anti-corruption commander Peter Crozier said the most vulnerable to identity theft are young people who readily give away personal information on social media, the elderly, small businesses and government departments.
‘People need to be vigilant about their identity, and need to be more careful,’ he said.