June 23, 2024

Busting a billion dollar British scammer cartel | Part 1 of 2 | 7NEWS Spotlight Documentary



Published May 29, 2023, 7:20 a.m. by Bethany


In this 7news spotlight documentary, we investigate a group of British scammers who have been targeting Australians in a multi-million dollar fraud operation.

The group, which calls itself the 'Billion Dollar Scammer Cartel', has been using a range of sophisticated scams to con people out of their hard-earned cash.

Some of the scams they have used include fake online dating profiles, bogus investment schemes and even a fake funeral service.

The group is believed to have scammed Australians out of more than $100 million, and there are fears that the number could be much higher.

7news reporter Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop has spent months investigating the scammer cartel, and in this two-part documentary, he reveals how they operate and the people they have duped.

Part one of the documentary airs on 7news on Sunday night at 6.30pm, and part two will air on Monday night at 6.30pm.

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foreign

billions of dollars scammed from

hard-working Aussies I've lost

everything how did you fall for that and

it's happening right now across

Australia

life savings 120 000 over a quarter

million nine hundred thousand now it's

payback time so these are the scammers

getting out of the car now they're like

cockroaches seven Spotlight is on the

inside with Malaysian Special Forces and

their official order is shoot to kill

Liam Bartlett and Ross coultart joined

forces for an unprecedented worldwide

sting

that will bring them down

24 simultaneous locations 81 arrests

more than a lawyer mate

four million dollars in cash seized and

we even catch the Kingpin

house to the doghouse mate now busting

the scammers

hello I'm Michael Usher and welcome to

Spotlight tonight the biggest

investigation of the year as we

infiltrate and bring down one of the

most successful scam operations in

history it is a billion dollar operation

run by ruthless and dangerous criminals

but to the victims they do they seem

like well spoken well-educated financial

advisors with cultured English accents

posing as real-life Traders these

British spivs have been raking in four

million dollars every week from trusting

Australians many of whom have lost their

life savings but that's all about the

change here's Liam Bartlett and Ross

cultart

[Music]

there are decent hard-working Aussies

all over this country that have been

targeted by these scammers operating

principally out of Kuala Lumpur in

Malaysia the couple we're about to

introduce you to here in Perth are

typical of their victims they're angry

humiliated feeling totally stupid and

embarrassed to the point where they

don't want to reveal their true

identities

so we'll call them Nat and Tom

[Music]

and we'll let them tell you what it

feels like to be ripped off to the point

of more than a quarter of a million

dollars

[Music]

it was over a quarter million you know

270 000 when we found out that we you

know we had been scammed

it was like such a kick in the guts

that was my superannuation and that's 25

years worth of work and you got nothing

that that was really hard to swallow

because

you have young children yeah I'm a young

family so financially you thought

planning was very important yeah for

sure yeah

they're a hard-working Suburban mum and

dad savers who looked for somewhere to

reinvest their nesting so we're probably

um three years in to having our own

self-managed Super fund and it had been

going really well

so here's how the scam trapped them and

thousands of other Australians the first

thing you need to know is the scammers

are more sophisticated than ever before

and their first step is an upmarket

online presence they create Prestige

looking sites Facebook ads and even

content for respected Financial

mastheads it's all bait in the water the

way they work everything checked out

Nat and Tom were keen on investing in

rare earth shares but clicking on a link

offering more information LED them into

a trap soon after their inquiry resulted

in a call then they just said oh look

you know we'll send you some information

and see what you think and this is to

the point where he guided us onto Yahoo

finance and gave us his financial

license and we were online checking it

out and his name and everything you know

checked out

yeah exchange there was the company

they knew what they were doing from the

beginning it was just so well planned

and elaborate I just thought we were

buying shares yeah if we wanted to sort

of condense the whole investment scam

that's the main thrust of it

they were essentially selling you shares

in companies that were non-existent

any time I even think about it I just

get like my knots in my stomach it's

just doing circles it's like it's a

horrible physically sick feeling

that sick feeling is a hidden epidemic

spreading as my colleague Ross Coulter

now reports across the country

set up bogus websites that are

advertising sales of Securities in these

real companies and their frauds Asic

knows their frauds the federal police

knows their frauds and what are they

doing about it nothing could they have

done something about it oh absolutely by

golly they could they could have put

warnings up online telling Australians

that they should be very very wary of

people offering Securities in these

companies

[Music]

and they don't promise like amazing

results either like I said we we made an

initial investment which was quite small

in most people's scale twenty thousand

twenty thousand initial twenty thousand

dollars investors yeah and then they

promised us like a you know a moderate

profit and then of course once they'd

gained our trust they made us aware of

another investment before their initial

investment Nat spent four days

researching the company

not only did she check the a triple C's

scam watch site she also rang the

Montreal head office of agard Union

Trading

that's the investment company that you

thought you were dealing with correct

yeah that was based from Canada it's

just the front for these scammers the

virtual company yeah it is unbelievably

difficult to track down these fraudsters

they're very clever they use things

called vpns virtual private networks on

their Internet Protocol providers so

that they can hide where they really are

they're disguising the country they're

in but the Machinery the software that

they're using can make it look like

they're in another country they might

say they're in Taiwan when in fact we

now know they're in Malaysia

it's almost certain that Nat and Tom

were scammed out of this very Building

inside are dozens of boiler rooms filled

with scammers targeting Australians the

city it's in Kuala Lumpur and there's a

reason why the ringleaders of this

Criminal Syndicate have chosen the

Malaysian Capital they look for

countries where they can set themselves

up securely or where their law

enforcement may be paid very low

salaries and they ultimately look for

opportunities where they can bribe

officials

the scammers don't yet know it but we've

been watching

right down to filming them turning up to

work

these are some of the hundreds of

scammers stealing Millions from

unsuspecting Aussies and in those boiler

rooms

thousands of people are being called

every day and if somebody's emptying

their bank account of 100

000 several hundred thousand in some

cases millions of dollars you don't need

to do too many of those calls

successfully from those boiler rooms to

make big money

this crime really pays and the simple

fact is our authorities are not doing

enough to stop it there's a complete

loophole in Australia when it comes to

police investigating fraud against

private individual victims in Australia

Ken gamble runs ifw Global which

investigates scams and fights for the

victims

are you telling me the Australian

federal police do not investigate

fraud against an individual in Australia

that's absolutely correct and that's

been the policy for decades very seldom

does any serious fraud case get

investigated in Australia once it's

determined that the offenders are

overseas they just drop it they don't

they don't look at it they don't have

any interest they have no resources they

have no ability to investigate and they

have no desire to reach out to

International Partners like we do and

try and catch the people Behind These

schemes so together with Ken Gamble and

the Malaysian anti-corruption commission

we're about to do what the Australian

authorities won't catch the scammers in

the act and bring them down

this surveillance Vision was just the

beginning because what the scammers

don't know is we also have someone on

the inside an informant who until

recently was one of their own

my parents

was doing who played on my conscience

and I'm not here to destroy people's

lives take away their hopes dreams

everything they've worked for when

people are going suicidal if

salutely diabolical tar-wrenching this

high-rise is where our informant and

many of the scammers work from not only

have the Mr Biggs bought off local

authorities they also bought the naming

rights for the building calling it M and

M so inside the operation when they're

running it day to day what do they think

of their victims M M's mugs with money

they don't they don't think of them as

anything you don't care I mean they're

nothing they're a piece of paper with a

number on it that's what they call them

M M's

the reason you haven't shared with

anyone else just got too embarrassed

yeah humiliated feels stupid

um

being judged people

obviously are just going to think how

stupid are you they're really

honest they will no matter what you tell

them

I think they still think you're stupid

with each new investment Nat and Tom saw

more profits on paper but the day they

asked to cash in was the day their

problems began at first they were

stalled then they were told the only way

they could get their money was to pay a

substantial fee to have it released yeah

the penny dropped and I just knew that

they were they were scamming me

defrauded and desperate they turned to

Ken gamble for help his advice keep the

scammers talking and record their

conversations for evidence that they're

trying to squeeze every last year sent

out of you and but you're still playing

the game at this stage yeah let me hear

how that plays out

I really appreciate you know the the

lengths that you're going to to get you

know the trade happening as traumatic as

it was Nat and Tom held their nerve

which is why you can now hear this audio

of the scammers at work this is a rare

insight

the nineteen thousand

in the left in the super account left

over

and then we don't actually have any

private funds like we we're living sort

of let it die on our wages

I've got our mortgage on

sort of know like it's just hike up that

extra

when we can't get it you know like this

was my superannuation that we

[Music]

[Music]

were it's pretty clear isn't it they've

got absolutely no conscience no

conscience what this particular scam is

very good at is persuading people about

The credibility of the scammers actions

energy accumulation

all these guys had British accents yeah

they were yeah

the other side of the body needs to come

to come as well an alarming number of

them have Posh British accents they use

language to make it sound like they are

they're very experienced in business

they inveigle the victim with the sense

that what they're doing is putting their

money into a very Sound Investment

the day after meeting Nat and Tom I left

Australia for Malaysia

[Music]

plans to take down the scammers were

well Advanced and Country-Wide raids

were perhaps days away

the net was closing in but the scammers

were still active and as I was there I

learned of another Australian victim I

called my colleague Ross kulthart in

Victoria

[Music]

g'day Liam how are you Ross how are you

very well mate we're down in Melbourne

talking to victims down here Ross

something that's come up overnight we've

been able to confirm another

victims I'd love you to have a chance to

describe the victim is an I.T expert

we'll call Jason he knows finance and

knows his way around the web

but it was an elaborate web that trapped

him this is one of the investment sites

that caught his eye it looks solid and

reputable but Jason needed more

convincing

I um went to the money smart website

and moneysmart is the site that the

Australian security investment

commission they advertised that if you

want to watch out for scams that's the

place you go to correct let me just

double check here you've verified that

it's registered as an Australian

business number correct tick you've

checked with the money watch scam watch

website on the Asic website check yep

Jason how much did the scanners take you

for in total it was a hundred and twenty

thousand dollars Australian

thank you

how badly did that hit you

uh very very badly I think when it all

kind of happened and when it all kind of

came together the first thing I thought

was oh no like you know

I've lost everything

after the break are you saying

Australians are easy targets to be

scammed because they're trusting how

much did you lose to the scanners my

life savings

[Music]

in a Week

seriously think there's a threat of

physical Danger

[Music]

it was during covert lockdown when we

were stuck at home and often on our

computers that the decade-long scam

really took off as victim after victim

clicked on innocent sites designed to

lure them in the scammers operate what's

known as the long con convincing their

targets with small initial Investments

that yield fake on paper profits once

hooked they don't stop until they've

taken every last cent

[Music]

to give you an idea of just how

blatantly these fraudsters are operating

the corporate watchdog the federal

police know of at least two scams that

are ongoing here in Australia right now

these companies have been brought to the

attention of Asic and the federal police

and you know what

nothing's been done about it and frankly

I have to ask what are they doing and

why aren't they doing what needs to be

done to stop people from getting scammed

[Music]

Malaysia it's a Haven for scammers

operating out of Asia and targeting

Australians

they're bringing hundreds of millions of

dollars into this country

undetected

on the trail of that stolen Aussie money

is Ken Gamble's ifw global

working with Malaysia's powerful

anti-corruption Commission on one of the

biggest busts in scamming history

many of the scammers operate out of this

high rise

come on

at the top of the building the bosses

have paid to Brand it with the letters m

m which stands for mugs with money

that's what they call their Australian

victims

but that's it just up there but what the

scammers don't know is we're coming

after them and they'll spend the next

eight hours on the phones and Ken's team

has them under surveillance we are

watching their ring leader

and we have a double agent inside

[Music]

but we've been given special access to

an Insider an informant who has helped

to make these roads possible

this guy's known as Andre and he's been

working inside The Syndicate for quite

some time let's have a chat to him

on the video call see what he's got to

say

hello Andre it's Liam Bartlett here from

Spotlight until his conscience got the

better of him Andre was a key member of

The Syndicate making a fortune in the

very boiler rooms we're about to take

down how much money were you making

Andre what sort of money was flowing

into your piggy bank

thousands thousands a week

thousands and how would they pay you

um

the information Andre provides includes

valuable details about the Mr Big

running this criminal syndicate

a British expat known as piglet

[Music]

he is Peg Leg and his extended family

living it up at an exclusive Resort paid

for by money stolen from Australian

victims we know who he is

and we know his real name this is Andy

Peters his 54 year old British national

he's the one of the main bosses of the

operation here the head of the Syndicate

he's got a nickname in the industry as

Peg Leg Andy because of the fact that he

lost his leg in an accident

have you got any idea at all how much

they may be responsible for for scamming

um it would have to be in excess of a

billion Australian dollars it would have

to be absolutely just this family just

this syndicate have you got any idea

Andre as to how much the the head of

this syndicate peg leg how much he'd be

worth

Millions

Ross thanks to this informant uh this

Insider we've also managed to uncover

the details of some other victims now

there's somebody uh else in Victoria uh

that's lost something like 6.8 million

dollars holy man there's somebody on the

Gold Coast that's lost 1.6 million uh

there's another victim in New South

Wales that we've just uncovered that's

lost 5.8 million dollars and there's a

lawyer can you believe it in Perth in

Western Australia that's lost 12 million

dollars to these scammers

[Music]

and every day there's someone new

Ross I understand you've uncovered

another victim how much have they lost

mate this guy's incredible he's a he's a

lovely bloke he's taken a while to get

on board I can't believe how much he's

lost it's half a million euro nearly a

million Australian dollars

but James a former engineer and

businessman it began with a seemingly

innocent call

s

I got a call from um very British

Speaking guy

from Taiwan

where he said he was from Taiwan yes

now before we go any further how did he

know who you were Hindu your name he had

your phone number he knew my name but I

guess

that they got it via the social platform

LinkedIn

and so because I begin The Grooming of

this New South Wales retiree

from a sophisticated sounding Englishman

who said he was the global head of a

major company

he was very

gentle very polite

and he was saying um are you interested

in investing some money in some chairs

which I can recommend to you

well the clients submits information

their age their occupation their

liquidity and they tell them how much

money they've gotten so you know then

they they know how much they're

targeting when I invested they gave me a

login I gave them my ID everything all

my shares were important you can see

everything basically they go um here buy

buy buy one Chef eight dollars you know

and then in like say A month's time or

whatever those Shares are increasing

because they've got a lot of volume now

they value those shares at 12.

I wouldn't be putting up

on their system

because I'd like you on paper profits

on outside combined with reassuring

English tones so we're going to process

our parts of this position first go a

long way to convincing trusting

Australians to invest but it's all a lie

these people from England have left

England a long time ago most of them

have criminal pasts and they get out of

the country and they go and set

themselves up in Southeast Asia

so it's not their first rodeo for most

of them no absolutely not

also adds money and it will seem like

that are you saying Australians are easy

targets to be scammed because they're

trusting oh yeah

yeah I would say

yeah and then also like once they've

been scanned

they have another department a slot room

is called air and the department then

brings them afterwards to tell them that

they can um recook their losses that

they uh they get them to remortgage

their homes

and then they lose absolutely everything

[Music]

how much did you lose to the scanners I

lost about 900

000 Australian dollars your life savings

my life savings yes

and for the scammers it all adds up

[Music]

when I was there

we were still around say some weeks four

million in a week four million

Australian dollars

in a week

but we're about to bring them down

we've got just hours to go now this is

the free rate briefing it's the morning

of the raid and this is where those

people that the anti-corruption

commission trust get to hear for the

first time exactly what's going on

[Music]

some of the people they don't trust who

have been deliberately kept in the dark

about operation Tropicana are the

Malaysian police who they fear are being

bribed to look the other way

I hope the best I'll come waiting for us

the operation now is being executed by

dato zamari the director of Malaysia's

powerful anti-corruption commission he's

planned every aspect with military

precision be the biggest operation

you've conducted anti-anti scammer I

think foreign

[Music]

secrecy is essential the crime

syndicates running these scams are not

only Rich they're ruthless

well you've helped to set this raid up

so talk to me about the people that are

about to be busted are they dangerous

yes do you seriously think there's a

threat of physical danger is that what

you say yeah

I've seen people

with you know if it's going to affect

their lives and their income

income they'll pay someone to hurt you

finish you and people have been shot and

killed

next D-Day for the scammers

if they're met with any resistance issue

to kill

you'll be more than a lawyer mate

[Music]

thank you

the malaysian-based British criminals

duping hard-working Australians out of

their life savings think they're beyond

the reach of the law but there's a rude

shock coming their way thanks to the

brave men and women known as Malaysia's

Untouchables the team at the country's

no-nonsense anti-corruption commission

have had enough and they're not fooling

around finally it's D-Day for the

scammers

it's the day of the rain

the day that Peg leg's criminal Empire

is being brought down finally Justice

for his Australian victims

[Music]

colleague

leas with the Malaysian anti-corruption

people in Malaysia at the moment they're

going to raid these boiler rooms I

suspect your scanners are located yeah

that'd be awesome

this will be the biggest operation in

Malaysian history

deadly series

multiple locations will be

simultaneously hit by dozens of assault

teams drawn from across the country

and they're armed to the teeth

this unit have been given authorization

to breach any door any way they need to

get into the boiler room and their

official order if they're met with any

resistance is shoot to kill

at precisely 4 pm it was time the

scammers were going down

[Music]

welcome

[Music]

[Music]

back now

[Music]

one of the first to be caught is the

manager of this Boiler Room he told me

his name was Darren

you're all right

they look great

it's a bit like being a victim of a scam

isn't it you feel a bit helpless

you haven't got much to say for yourself

now have you I haven't done anything

wrong really

I don't know how much was your boss

paying you to

to work here and scam people

where are you from

England England

how does 20 years in jail in it

bit of caning and a fine on top of that

sound

you're happy with yourself

[Music]

a handful of scammers escaped the bridge

team

think there's somebody up in the roof

somewhere in the building cornered and

desperate they tried to hide

but to no avail downstairs

so they tried to escape and they're from

this office yes well done

here we go one even attempted to jump

his way to Freedom amid all the

craziness of trying to run away from the

raid team when they finally swooped a

New Zealand scammer there decided the

best way to elude Justice was to

literally jump out of the window

he jumped in three stories below hit the

next roof went straight through the

tiles that broke his fall but he also

broke both hands and arm and a leg and

is very lucky to be alive

there were more raids across the city

24 locations were hit

including the apartments of the scammers

it was not only humans captured but a

treasure Trove of information

really truly believes that they've

invested in something that's made them a

lot of money inside the boiler rooms

chapter and verse of how the scam

operates it's all about getting getting

them to say yes their playbook scripts

here a classic Boiler Room where these

people are trained to deceive people

into investing money it's detailed isn't

it very detailed the money train

everything

[Music]

the ground

excuse me

what's up what's your name

I'm Liam Matt

we're from Channel 7 Spotlight in

Australia

how you feeling I'm not saying anything

without a lawyer you want a lawyer like

more than a lawyer mate

so all the victims we spoke to say

they're all conned out of their money

their life savings people with British

accents yeah these guys just happen to

have British accents yeah what a

coincidence

jail awaits and it'll be worse for those

who fail drug tests yeah they're doing

the drug tests the penalty in Malaysia

is Harsh

harsh too for white-collar crime

not only jail but they could be caned

until they bleed as 20 years in a

Malaysian jail sound back no wonder they

look so scared and sorry for themselves

[Music]

who's the boss here I don't know is that

your office in there no it's not my

office

I don't know Peg Leg see we've done our

hard work

you're doing it for a long time

more than a year

so we actually know a lot

[Music]

but no sympathy for them from Nat who

lost her life savings to these heartless

thieves

[Music]

Ken gamble here with lamb Bartlett in

Malaysia

hi Ken how are you yes very well we've

got some good news we've got a lot of

people in custody here at the moment

yeah

yeah

it's a great result the next step now is

to try and find their money and their

assets and obviously start to recover

money it's the first step to Justice

yeah

little jail cell for a long long time

well is there any message you'd like me

to pass on to them

[Music]

gotcha and I hope you rock jail

like the scum lowlifes that you are

Gary

just a quick one

I just I promised one of your Australian

victims that I pass on a message

so if you don't mind I've written it

down because it's a bit complicated it

goes something like this sucked in

Karma's got you I hope you brought in

jail

[Music]

Pig leg is about to get a household

what is the problem

[Music]

you're not going anywhere

as Malaysian authorities execute

simultaneous rides across two dozen

properties they have one major focus in

mind for operation Tropicana to succeed

they had to cut off the head of the

snake and take down the scam Syndicate

Kingpin known as peg leg

it's a rainy afternoon in Kuala Lumpur

and Peg Leg is about to get a house call

[Applause]

ing

[Music]

hello

hoses as a family man but he's really

the ruthless ringleader of Malaysia's

biggest scam syndicate

foreign

[Music]

we just need you to cooperate with us

it's the electrical yes yes yes what is

the problem

can you tell me why lying made him

Filthy Rich and he calmly keeps it up to

try and stay free tired yeah bro I have

properties

Joe

[Music]

[Music]

I don't want to sign into you put me

away tonight

[Music]

peg leg has been caught on the Hop he

couldn't run he certainly couldn't hide

I've seen taking pictures of me he's

taking a picture of everybody he and his

family are forced to watch as

anti-corruption cops turn over every

room in his house

[Music]

okay

and then he was taken away

[Music]

if any of the Aussie victims are

wondering where their money went well

here's part of the answer this is the

home that Peg Leg built on the back of

his ill-gotten Gates local terms well

over a million dollars and of course

they found another million odd in cash

in a couple of safes when they turned up

to arrest him

got all the scammers here the suspects

in the cars were just waiting until the

court inside gives these people the

authority to come up say we're ready

we'll arraign them officially and put

them before the judge

prison Orange has replaced Peg leg's

usual Resort Wear

Andy how's it going

how's it going there andy

you got a message for all your

Australian victims

you've gone from the penthouse to the

doghouse mate

right it must be a horrible feeling

knowing that you've lost everything

like all those thousands of victims in

Australia that you've knocked off

you're not you're not going anywhere

back in Australia two of those victims

watched the scammers downfall

[Music]

we got them

[Music]

feels awesome it feels awesome like my

heart's beating so fast now like

the best thing is you often feel

powerless when you're evicted with these

scams you feel like there's nothing you

can do nowhere you can go no one to help

you so this is this is great yeah does

it make you feel good seeing these two

proms on their knees yeah on national TV

one of your workmates has just stopped

in this lady at least has been honest

yeah hopefully there's some justice

so off to jail for these criminals

you're fond of calling them mugs with

money who's the mug now Andy but others

will step up

with weak Australian Watch Dogs and

millions to be made sadly the scammers

aren't beaten yet and let's say you got

it why do you think you're gonna show

well let's say you've got this whole

thing right do you think you're gonna

shut well shut the shot yeah

that's all right we'll shut them

eventually yeah good luck with that

[Music]

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