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Crime Interrupted: How a kebab order led to a five-year jail sentence | #cybercrime | #computerhacker

Editor’s note: Images from the search warrant and an infographic explainer of the offending is available via Hightail

The latest episode of the AFP’s Crime Interrupted podcast takes listeners on a deep dive into Operation Birks – a major cybercrime investigation which led to the arrest of a Melbourne woman who discarded her cloak of online anonymity through a late-night kebab order.

The AFP has partnered with Casefile to produce a second season of Crime Interrupted, which showcases six new episodes on AFP investigations into counter terrorism, childcare fraud, cybercrime and more.

Today’s episode looks at an international cybercrime syndicate responsible for stealing more than $3.3 million through large-scale online fraud and attempting to steal a further $7.5 million from victims’ superannuation and share accounts.

The investigation, led by the AFP and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), began in late 2018 and revealed the syndicate was using stolen identity information purchased from the dark net to undertake ‘identity takeovers’.

Former AFP Detective Leading Senior Constable Jim Astley was the lead investigator for the case and explained the syndicate set up dozens of fake bank accounts using the stolen credentials to execute the scams.

“To set up the accounts they needed to get past two-factor authentication, and they got around this by creating fake email accounts and using SIM cards in burner phones,” he said.

While the criminals were generally careful in using different SIM cards for each account they were hacking, it only took one mishap to connect the Melbourne woman to the syndicate.

“I think she put 200 SIM cards through a particular phone, and on one occasion she had done some offending, but then foolishly made a phone call to a business that would allow us to track her.”

That phone call was made to a kebab shop in Melbourne and gave investigators the bread crumb of information they needed to begin tracking her down.

From here, investigators contacted the owner of the kebab shop who had kept a record of the order which included her name and a delivery address.

This led investigators to ‘Hannah’ – a North Melbourne woman, then 21, with no criminal record who was playing a major role in orchestrating the fraudulent activity.

She was arrested in April 2019 and sentenced to five years and six months’ jail in December 2022 after pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud superannuation funds, conspiring to defraud share trading funds, and conspiracy to deal in proceeds of crime to the value of more than $1 million.

“Shame of it is that Hannah was pretty bright, articulate, motivated and took initiative. She was working this almost like a full-time job and the amount of money that she earned from this was – in all account – not that significant, considering the risk.

“Cyber skills are so highly sought after. We can’t get enough people to help us with these investigations. You could go down the path of the dark net, but the reality is you’re going to get caught.

“If you use your skills to work with authorities, you’re going to make a lot more money, have a far easier life, and it’s going to be really rewarding.

“I love what I do and there’s no reason why people with those technical skills couldn’t land in a job where they’re targeting hackers to prevent this sort of thing. That’s the flip side and that’s what you could be doing.”

Hear the full story of Operation Birks in the second season of Crime Interrupted, now available to listen for free on all podcast streaming services. Search for Crime Interrupted or visit

To learn more about you can join the AFP to help combat cybercrime, visit

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