Fraud investigation leads to child abuse charges

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Editor’s note: Audio captures are available via Hightail

A Sydney man has been charged with being in possession of more than 3,500 images and videos of child pornography.

The 40-year-old man came to the attention of police during an investigation by the Integrity Taskforce, Operation Bonito. Taskforce Integrity is a partnership between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Services Australia targeting fraud and identity crime.

Investigators from AFP and Services Australia executed two search warrants in the Sydney suburbs of Rooty Hill and Mt Druitt in February 2022 as part of the fraud investigation. Police seized evidence, including documents and electronic devices.

It will be alleged that during a forensic examination of the devices, police found over 3,500 images and videos of child pornography.

The man was arrested today (July 18, 2022) in Hassall Grove by investigators from AFP Taskforce Integrity and New South Wales police officers from the Mt Druitt Proactive Crime Team.

He was charged with:

  • one count of possession or control of child pornography obtained or accessed using a carrier service contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
  • one count of using a transportation service to access child pornography, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for these offenses is 15 years imprisonment.

AFP Acting Superintendent of Detective Rachel Ball said AFP investigators are adapting and will follow evidence wherever it leads to help secure prosecutions and protect the community.

“We have not ruled out the possibility of additional charges and arrests as part of the ongoing fraud investigation,” Det. Acting Superintendent. said Ball.

The man is due to appear in Mt Druitt Local Court this afternoon.

AFP and its partners are committed to ending child exploitation and abuse and the Australian Center for Combating Child Exploitation is leading a collaborative national approach to tackle child abuse.

The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in one central hub, supporting investigations of online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

Members of the public who have information about those involved in child abuse and exploitation are asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.accce.gov.au/report. If you know abuse is happening at the moment or a child is in danger, call the police immediately on 000.

Research by the ACCCE in 2020 found that only about half of parents talk to their children about online safety.

An award-winning podcast launched last year by the ACCCE “Closing The Net” strives to change that, showing that knowledge is power and that our only chance to help prevent this problem is to provide an answer” to the whole community”. .

The podcast series offers valuable advice and tips on how to keep children safe online. Listen to the close the net podcast on your favorite streaming platform.

If you or someone you know is affected by child sexual abuse and online exploitation, support services are available at www.accce.gov.au/support.

Advice and support for parents and guardians on how they can help protect children online can be found at www.thinkuknow.org.auan education program run by AFP and designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

Note to media:

Use of the term ‘CHILD ABUSE’ MATERIAL AND NOT ‘CHILD PORNOGRAPHY’

The correct legal term is Child Abuse Material – the move to this wording was part of amendments to Commonwealth legislation in 2019 to more accurately reflect the seriousness of the crimes and the harm inflicted on victims.

The use of the term “child pornography” is inaccurate and benefits child sex offenders because it:

  • indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the aggressor; and
  • conjures up images of children posing in “provocative” positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.

Each photograph or video captures a real situation where a child has been abused.

Media inquiries

AFP media: (02) 5126 9297

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