Australians arrested in global phishing network sting

Five Australians have been arrested as part of a global sting operation into a "one-stop shop" for cyber criminals seeking to steal personal data.

Federal police made the arrests as part of a take down of the platform LabHost, which allows for cyber criminals to impersonate websites as part of phishing scams.

The personal details of 94,000 Australians have been stolen through LabHost, which has been used by criminals to impersonate 170 websites, including banks and government websites such as MyGov.

A Melbourne man and an Adelaide man were arrested during police search warrants carried out on Wednesday, with police alleging the pair used LabHost.

A further three people were arrested in Melbourne for drug-related offences during the searches.

Police estimate as much as $28 million was lost due to phishing scams carried out through LabHost.

AFP acting assistant commissioner for cyber command Chris Goldsmid said investigations into the Australian arm of LabHost had been under way since October.

"What was really insidious about LabHost is it was a one-stop shop for phishing," he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

"LabHost provided cyber criminals with all the tools they needed to undertake phishing attacks, including the infrastructure to host a phishing website."

Criminals could sign up to the service for as little as $270 to obtain information such as log-ins and passwords to steal money from victims.

Once websites were replicated using LabHost, texts and emails are then sent out to customers as an attempt to steal personal data.

The arrests were made as part of a global operation into LabHost, led by police in the United Kingdom, that saw officers from 19 countries carry out search warrants.

Overall, 37 people were arrested as part of the investigation, including the alleged developer.

"This is a significant disruption of the LabHost infrastructure and criminals' ability to operate using this service," Mr Goldsmid said.

"Global activity will continue over the coming weeks and months and further arrests are expected."

Police estimate LabHost had more than 40,000 phishing websites, with more than 10,000 people using the platform.

The platform started in Canada in 2021, with Australian criminals among the top three user countries.

Mr Goldsmid said the rise in cybercrime represented a significant concern for law enforcement.

"Cybercrime as a service is probably not a new concept, but it's certainly something that is lowering the barrier of entry for criminals," he said.

"Phishing is really a key threat vector, a really key mechanism that criminals use to both gain access to networks and steal personal information.

The arrests have prompted a repeat of warnings for customers to be careful when receiving unsolicited email or texts with links.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.


Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
AU$10
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
AU$5
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
AU$99
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

SEVEN DAYS FREE
Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store