Background of Fraudulent Identity in Australia

On July 5, several men from Sydney were apprehended for their alleged involvement in fraudulent activity, or rather an identity manufacturing operation. An Australian man was also imprisoned at the beginning of the year in Bali for using forged immigration documents. Additionally, around a hundred Australians have fought their way into Syria and Iraq to combat ISIS using fraudulent documents for travel.

Analysis of Intelligence Assessment

In recent times, cases of identity fraud have been on the rise in Australia. Further, the Australian government has tried to document the issue of identity fraud by establishing ways in which this crime can be solved (Roberts, Indermaur, & Spiranovic, 2013; Cross-, 2015; Australian Crime Commission, 2014). In essence, the identification of the areas most affected due to identity theft was established by the government. It has also tried looking for solution measures to curb and reduce the effects of identity theft. In this case, it can be argued that identity fraud cases occured as a result of forging documents in a manner that suggests that person has taken up someone else’s identity (Macdonald & Fitzgerald, 2014; Jewkes & Yar, 2013; Mathews, 2013).

However, establishing the exact count of the number of crimes that are committed in Australia has been a hard task (Cross-, Smith, & Richards, 2014; Dellaportas, 2013; Cross-, 2016; Smith & Hutchings, 2014). There is no single category of identity fraud crimes, which makes it difficult to reveal the exact number of identity-related frauds in the process. Moreover, records that are available indicate that the cases of identity crimes are on the increase due to the rapidly rising demand for fake identities coupled with advancements in technology. In essence, the fact that Australian citizens found their way into Syria without the required documents indicates how rampant the issue of fraudulent identity and the demand for forged documents is in Australia (Vieraitis, Copes, & Birch, 2014; Hay & Webster, 2014; Prenzler, 2016)

The fact that the issue of fraudulent identity crimes has been on the increase clearly shows that the government authority in Australia has been reluctant to establish measures that can help reduce this issue. For instance, when four men were arrested in Sydney for crimes that were related to identity crime offenses, police revealed that the men were a criminal syndicate that was producing fraudulent documents, including identity cards (Smith, Winchester, & Pang, 2014; Clough, 2015; Tajpour, Ibrahim, & Zamani, 2013; Misra, Anderson, & Saunders, 2013; Button, Lewis, & Tapley, 2014). The issue that arises here is the fact that if these four men were arrested for owning the equipment for making fake identities, then how many Australians depended in them for faked documents? In essence, this clearly indicates that Australia is not capable of creating awareness about the dangers of having forged documents hence people are not in the know. Such a discovery, as the identity crime department reports, shows that the identity fraud market is rampantly growing. This theory is supported by the fact that the people involved could afford such sophisticated equipment. Moreover, other documents that were manufactured include medical care access cards, drivers’ licenses, and bank credit cards. In 2001, the Australian police arrested a man who had used nearly fifty false identities in a $7 million property fraud. He used the identities to obtain home loans from financial institutions (Sergi, 2016; Flynn, 2016; Gisev et al., 2014). In simple terms, the Australian fraudulent crime system needs to establish measures that would be able to curb fraudulent the identities not only when it comes to immigration, but also in all other sectors including the financial one (Brown, 2015; Cross-, 2015; Wilcock, 2014; Jaishankar & Ronel, 2013; Zulhuda, Mohamed & Mohamed,2015).

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics personal fraud classification report, 5% of the total number of people who reported personal identity fraud became victims of personal fraud, while 35% only got exposed to the scams. Additionally, 2.4% of those who were exposed to personal identity fraud suffered incidences of bank theft, while the 2.6% became victims of stolen identity. Among those who were exposed to a personal scam, 2.0% became victims. 60% of identity theft victims became involved in other identity thefts crimes (Button, Nicholls, Kerr, & Owen, 2014).

In Australia, identity crimes may involve fraudsters using their victims’ identities to cover criminal offenses. In turn, the victims become suspects in crimes they did not commit. Online bank theft is another adverse effect that may be experienced by victims of identity theft. As reported by the Australian Bureau of statistics, online bank theft is experiences by 2.4% of identity fraud victims (Jamieson, 2012). Additionally, identity fraudsters may use stolen identities to access information that they could not have been able to access otherwise. In the report, it is shown that this crime carries 0.4% of victims of identity fraud.

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As a result of the increasing rates of cases connected to fraudulent identity documents, it is acknowledged that the nations surrounding Australia are not an exception in feeling the implications of fraudulent identity crimes in Australia. A number of Australian nationality holders have been charged with false national identification in countries like Syria and Iraq. In fact, some of the fraudulent crimes that are witnessed in Syria’s ISIS fights are of even worse nature than average (Cross- & Richards, 2015). By producing fake identity documents, fraudsters create a threat to the security of the neighbouring country, as well as Australia, if there are no strict measures to curb this issue. For instance, in Bali Australian citizens have been arrested bearing false immigration and identification cards. In simple terms, this implies that the rising levels of identity fraud make it hard for neighbouring countries to fight crime, as criminals can easily attain fake Australian citizenship and move to Australia to avoid justice (Pontell & Geis, 2014). Additionally, it is very likely that they will continue to execute their crimes while in Australia.

With the rapidly rising levels of fraudulent identity crimes, it can be argued that the Australian government has tried to establish some measures that can help reduce this threat. For instance, in the year 2002, Australia did not have any legislation in place to address identity crimes and fraud, because they were not as rampant as they are today. However, the nation has taken several measures towards achieving a reduction in identity fraud as the level of identity crimes grew (Pontell & Geis, 2014). In 2003, the nation introduced ‘Australian Identity Crime Policing Strategy-AICPS’ that targeted identity crime and provided identity crime victim assistance. With the help of the Australian government, AICPS provided a sound foundation for police officers commencing their vigilance towards fraudulent identity crimes. In this case, it incorporated the participation of other law enforcement agencies, the government, the private organizations, as well as members of the public. In fact, its vision was to achieve ‘a safer and more secure community’. It is one of the policies in Australia that helps curb the issues of fraudulent identity crimes.

In the AICPS policy plan, it was suggested that the AICPS should be used as the Electronic Crime Strategy’s companion as it was revealed that many identity crimes were electronic (Gisev et al., 2014). In order to achieve maximum effectiveness of the strategy, there was a need to collaborate with the ECS to identify crimes between the Australian police jurisdictions and their partners who included the public and private sectors. Besides, education on prevention, precautions, and risk management practices to strengthen procedures used by institutions that enable criminals to exploit them was another important fraudulent identity crime mitigation strategy within the policy framework (Zulhuda, Mohamed, & Mohamed, 2015). Moreover, extending partnership to the community helped the specialists to provide sufficient knowledge to minimize the risk of becoming victims of identity crimes. Furthermore, another reason for advocating partnering up with the public is to educate them on reporting identity crimes to the police, so that they would be investigated.

Since most of the fraudulent activities that were reported were technologically oriented, it is important to note that technology is an important aspect in preventing fraudulent identity documentation. In this case, improving the technology that is used to make financial, commercial, and organizational transactions can be one way of minimizing the issue of fraudulent identity crimes in banking institutions and other financial sectors (Flynn, 2016). Moreover, an increased validity of identity registration as well as authentication methods like PIN numbers refers to ways that could help improve transaction protection technology. Furthermore, the employment of computer-chipped cards and biometrics could act as a part of the technology that is used to improve user authentication. In other words, the Australian law can enforce new technologies, such as establishing the use of live scan to assist in combating identity crimes (Gisev et al., 2014). In this case, live scan assists in conducting online fingerprint identification that directly interfaces with the National Fingerprint Identification System and can immediately identify offenders.

An advancement of technology in the police department has the potential of developing the police capability to respond, investigate, and establish identity crimes. Aligning the strategies used by the police to fight identity crime with those used by other departments covering regulatory, management, and enforcement responsibilities could advance the efforts of curbing identity crimes. Additionally, establishing partnerships with financial institutions and customer protection organizations could similarly assist the police in reducing the number of crimes that occur (Gisev et al., 2014). Based on the fraudulent identity crimes that happened in Syria and Bali, it can be argued that the technological capabilities of the police need to be developed to increase the capacity to meet the prevailing and future needs in investigating the use of technology by identity criminals (Sergi, 2016). In fact, engaging the private sector can further help in the reduction of identity crimes by tightening up their security protocols to reduce opportunities that may be provided for identity criminals. Therefore, it is important for the Australian government to establish regulatory and legislative reforms that will ensure that technological-based investigations are allowed to prosecute and investigate fraudulent identity crimes, since most of the crimes are technology-related.

Law enforcement as stipulated in the AICPS is another strategy that can help achieve efficiency in fighting identity fraud cases. When dealing with identity crimes, the police should be very careful as the crimes may be delicate and misleading at times. In reference to law enforcement, the strategies were used to ensure that enough investigations are done and, in so doing, that the right criminals are arrested (Gisev et al., 2014). The arrest of the five men who were involved in fraudulent identity manufacturing calls for immediate measures aimed at issues of technology to be established in order to curb advanced technology from being used inappropriately by fraudsters.

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In relation to the background of Australia’s fraudulent identity documentation market, it is clear that it has continuously developed in terms of technology and track-covering techniques. However, following the introduction of AICPS to guide policies of identity fraud crimes, the nation has experienced considerable achievements in fighting identity crimes. Additionally, Australia has improved in reducing the number of people and criminals caught using it as a connection point to the US. In fact, because of the increasing cases of mistaken identity, the improvement of authentication technology has advanced the protection of individual and institutional financial account protection, reducing cases of financial fraud. Despite these improvements, Australia still encounters cases of its citizens illegally moving to Syria and Iraq after attaining fake or stolen immigration authorization. Therefore, the Australian government should establish several measures that can help fill the holes that are exploited by these fraudsters in order to curb the implications of fraudulent identity crimes to the neighbouring countries and Australia itself.

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