Cousins admit role in identity theft, phone fraud scam

Cheryl Goodenough |

Two fraudsters made thousands of dollars through a “sophisticated” scheme that used telco customer’s details to order phones that were intercepted before delivery.

Dilpreet and Manjinder Singh were not the architects of the fraud they committed over eight months, but the cousins were recruited by a Sydney-based phone application user named Mustafa, a court has heard.

The men pleaded guilty to fraud, attempted fraud and obtaining identity information in the Brisbane District Court on Thursday. 

Dilpreet, 28, was a StarTrack delivery driver, while 33-year-old Manjinder managed deliveries and organised recruits.

Dilpreet Singh
Dilpreet Singh would intercept the parcels in his role as a delivery driver. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Others involved in the scheme pretended to be telco employees, cold-calling Optus, Telstra and Vodafone customers and offering new devices at discounted prices.

The impersonators had some information about the customers, such as knowing how long they had been with the telco, but obtained additional personal details during the call.

The scammers bought devices online using the details of customers, who were charged the full price rather than the discounted offer.

StarTrack drivers like Dilpreet retrieved the phones while pretending to deliver the parcels to addresses in the area where they worked.

The drivers were part of the scheme as they had to enter identification details – provided by the fraudsters – into a scanner to falsely demonstrate devices were delivered to the correct customers.

The cousins organised packages, managed the delivery interception process and recruited two drivers, while other syndicate members made the calls to customers.

The men communicated with a person using the name Mustafa via WhatsApp, providing details about addresses in the catchment area where the drivers operated.

Dilpreet said he was happy to become involved after doing a trial and ensuring there were no drugs in the packages, the court heard.

Manjinder received about $40,000 into his bank account between March and November 2021, distributing cuts to Dilpreet and the drivers they recruited.

It is estimated the cousins received about $15,000 each while the phones were taken by other syndicate members.

The total value of the devices lost to phone companies was $214,572, with another $88,240 worth of orders cancelled before being processed.

The fraud was sophisticated, persistent and systematic, prosecutor Jennifer O’Brien said.

Dilpreet abused his position of trust, using his employment to carry out the scheme, she told the court.

Defence barrister Gerard Elmore said the men were not the architects of the scheme but had helped expand the syndicate that also had drivers in Sydney and Melbourne.

“He made little money from it,” Mr Elmore said about Dilpreet.

Manjinder Singh
Manjinder Singh managed deliveries and organised recruits to the scam. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Barrister Daniel Caruana said serving time behind bars would impact Manjinder, who was supporting elderly parents in India.

“It’s a shame he didn’t give thought to these consequences when he was making the decision as to whether he would involve himself in the scheme in the first place,” Judge Carl Heaton responded.

The Crown submitted the men should receive a sentence of four years behind bars, while defence barristers argued for a fully suspended jail term.

The men, who have been on bail since their arrest, were remanded in custody after the sentencing submissions. 

Judge Heaton is due to sentence the pair on Friday.