Cybercrime skyrockets in NSW as murders and robberies fall

A man in a cafe uniform.Sam Shepherd thought a Facebook Marketplace seller was legitimate after they provided an ABN.

Sam Shepherd wanted to buy his girlfriend a laptop for her birthday, but instead lost a week's wage to criminals looking to make a quick buck on Facebook.

  • NSW Police say murders and robberies are decreasing while cybercrime is on the rise
  • Cyber criminals use anything from unsolicited emails to legitimate sites like Facebook
  • A NSW woman last year became the first person to be charged over alleged crypto-currency theft

The 19-year-old, who works as a full-time barista, found a second-hand MacBook Pro for $1,300 on Facebook Marketplace, a shopping website similar to eBay.

He made a bank transfer to the seller, but his nice gesture instantly backfired.

"I was chatting to a woman on Facebook Marketplace and she referred me to a website," he said.

"A man provided me with an ABN and all these details — so it seemed legit. But once I handed over $1,300, he blocked me and I lost all that money."

While Mr Shepherd considers himself tech savvy, the majority of cybercrime victims are aged between 20 and 39, mainly targeted through email and social media.

New South Wales Police set up its first cybercrime squad just over a year ago.

The number of arrests more than doubled from 35 at the end of 2017, to 73 at the end of 2018.

Detective Superintendent Matt Craft said criminals were increasingly moving off the streets and on to computers, with traditional crimes like armed robberies falling across the state.

"A traditional offender no longer has a balaclava and a short gun, but rather they have a laptop and a briefcase — it's never been more important to make sure your personal details are kept confidential," he said.

"It's also really vital that people report cybercrimes to police — we know that most of the time, people are too embarrassed to speak up, but it's the only way we can stop more attacks."

Detective Superintendent Matt CraftDetective Superintendent Matt Craft said unsolicited emails often contained suspicious links.Crypto-currency arrests break new ground

In the first three months of 2017, the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) received 11,775 reports, and the number increased to 14,189 at the start of 2018 — a rise of around 20 per cent.

The reporting of cybercrime to police led to Katherine Nguyen, 23, becoming the first person to be charged over the alleged theft of crypto-currency in Australia last October.

The university student from Epping is accused of stealing almost half a million dollars' worth of Ripple after locking a 56-year-old man out of his email for two days.

"That victim came to police and we were able to achieve a result and identify who was responsible for that online behaviour," Detective Superintendent Craft said.

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Tags: Cybercrime, Robbery, Facebook, New South Wales Police Force, Murder, Superintendent (police)