Australian authorities have uncovered a 6 million Australian dollar ($4.8 million) international credit card scam that used stolen personal information from people as far away as Britain and Spain, officials said on Thursday.
Seven people were arrested on Wednesday in searches carried out by a multi-agency team in Sydney and Melbourne, Australian Federal Police said in a statement.
The syndicate allegedly used the stolen personal details to manufacture more than 200 fake credit cards and driver's licenses a week and used them to make up to AU$500,000 in weekly purchases of electronic goods, gift cards, phone cards and alcohol, the statement said.
Federal police Assistant Commissioner Mandy Newton said the personal information was stolen from card holders in Australia, Spain, Britain and Malaysia.
"What we are identifying is a global issue, it is not just in Australia," Newton said. More than 1,200 credit card numbers have been involved in the scam since March, Newton said.
The syndicate first came to the attention of police during a 2008 Department of Immigration investigation into a suspected illegal work racket, which uncovered evidence of the credit card fraud.
That investigation identified several illegal immigrants who had been arrested for shopping along the east coast using fraudulent credit cards and who are believed to have been used as shoppers by the syndicate, said Immigration Department investigator Peter Richards, without identifying their nationalities.
The seven people will be charged with offenses including dealing in the proceeds of crime, participating in a criminal group, and making and using false instruments.