Sunday, July 21, 2024

Police stamp out forgery operation

A 55-year-old Dianella man who runs a sticker business has been arrested by Australian Federal Police (AFP) for allegedly forging thousands of dollars worth of postage stamps.

The man is expected to appear in Perth Magistrate’s Court today after AFP investigators arrested him at his Dianella home yesterday.

Police claim the same man is also wanted by Victoria Police over several alleged arson offences.

The AFP will allege the 55-year-old manufactured the counterfeit stamps and used them to provide free postage and handling when sending goods to customers of his sticker business.

AFP officers, with the assistance of Australia Post, seized fake stamps and a high-end printer allegedly used for counterfeiting when they executed a search warrant at the man’s Dianella home.

Investigators also seized identity documents and credit cards in other people’s names, two unlicensed firearms and two prohibited flick knives.

The man has been charged with one count of forged a postage stamp, contrary to section 85G(1) of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

He faces a potential 10 years’ imprisonment if convicted of the offence.

Inquiries are ongoing into the weapons and other items seized by police.

The AFP began investigating in July this year, after Australia Post staff intercepted hundreds of mail items with forged stamps.

Police say the forgeries were of a high quality, with perforated edges on the stamps.

However, vigilant Australia Post staff noticed inconsistencies in stamps going through the mail network and seized hundreds of suspect items.

AFP Detective Superintendent David Berston said police will allege the man had tried to undermine the security of Australia’s postal system.

He said the case being brought against the accused is consistent with what police see in many criminal enterprises, making a profit through an exploited commodity.

“We will allege this man was forging stamps to create a financial advantage for himself,” Detective Superintendent Berston said.

“He was able to entice customers to his business and away from his competitors because the free postage made his products cheaper, creating an unfair playing field.

“We also allege this conduct put his customers at risk of not receiving the goods they purchased in good faith, with Australia Post needing to intercept and hold hundreds of mail items that had counterfeit stamps.

“This crime also siphons money away from Australian taxpayers because Australia Post is owned by the Commonwealth Government.”

Approximately 680 mail items with alleged fake stamps valued at approximately $2300 were detected but it is unknown how many items with forged stamps were sent.

This case forms part of wider efforts by the AFP to protect the integrity of supply chains and harden the air transport environment from exploitation by criminals.

The AFP has not identified any connection to an alleged eastern states-based crime syndicate, which is accused of importing and selling counterfeit Australia Post satchels on eBay.

Separately, AFP investigators are also liaising with Victoria Police, who allege the same man is wanted in Melbourne over eight arson and three attempted arson offences.

They allege the 55-year-old is the subject of an arrest warrant issued by Melbourne County Court in 2018. This investigation by Victoria Police remains ongoing.

Anyone with information about unlawful activity which threatens the integrity of air facilitated trade or safety and security at Australian airports should ring Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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