Increases In Fraud & Dishonesty Offences

Gold Coast Bulletin | Meilinda Siegmeier | December 13th, 2010

Doubling of dirty deeds

We are desperate and dishonest.

Almost twice the number of people have turned to dishonesty during tough economic times, leaving Gold Coast residents more likely to be ripped off than burgled.

The latest serious crime statistics released by the Director of Public Prosecutions show a 56 per cent rise in fraud offenses and a 51 per cent decline in burglaries from the 2008-09 to 2009-10 financial years.

Gold Coast solicitor Bill Potts said locals suffering from the effects of the global financial crisis had become desperate and turned to committing dishonest offenses.

In the past financial year he said he had seen a dramatic increase in identity, credit card and false loan fraud in order for people to “get by”.

In this time, 464 serious fraud matters were referred to the Southport District Court, compared to 297 the previous financial year.

A total of 2901 fraud matters were investigated by police.

Burglary and break-and-enter offences dropped from 297 to 144.

Mr Potts said a police fraud squad based on the Gold Coast was needed now more than ever.

He said fraud matters were dealt with by general duty police and were only referred to Brisbane if the matter was complex or involved more than $500,000.

Mr Potts said he believed burglaries were down because fraud was easier to commit.

“If you want to commit fraud, you just need to have a credit card and max it out – why risk going to jail for robbing someone or somewhere for a few hundred dollars,” he said.

Opposition spokesman on Justice Jarrod Blejie yesterday said it was good to see police catching fraudulent criminals but questioned whether the punishments being handed down by the courts were tough enough.

He said identity fraud was a major issue as it was such an easy crime to commit and was unlikely to go away with the ever increasing advancements in technology.

The DPP report also showed a total of 1556 cases referred to the Southport DPP in the 09-10 financial year, which helped to target cash and assets worth almost $27 million from Queensland criminals.

Those cases included 241 offences of violence, 188 sexual offences, including computer-related and against children, and two cases of dangerous driving causing death.

Police urged people to protect themselves from fraud crimes by reporting any lost property, not giving out personal information to strangers, destroying personal documents, securing letter boxes, limiting the credit limit on credit cards and installing anti-virus software on home computers.

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