Cousins jailed for 'easy money' identity, phone fraud

Two fraudsters took an opportunity to make easy money, becoming embroiled in a syndicate that duped telco customers into providing details to order phones they never received.

Dilpreet and Manjinder Singh were recruited by the scam's orchestrators but provided a vital service for the syndicate, a court has been told.

The cousins will spend six months in prison after being sentenced in the Brisbane District Court on Friday. They had earlier pleaded guilty to fraud, attempted fraud and obtaining identity information.

Dilpreet Singh (file image)
Dilpreet Singh intercepted the parcels ordered in the scam. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Other syndicate members pretended to be Optus, Telstra and Vodafone employees, cold-calling customers and offering new devices at discounted prices.

The impersonators had information about the customers such as knowing how long they had been with the telco, so they appeared genuine 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 such as Dilpreet, 27, 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.

Manjinder Singh (file image)
Manjinder Singh helped recruit drivers to take part in the scheme. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Manjinder, 33, and his cousin organised packages, managed the delivery interception process and recruited two drivers, while other syndicate members made the calls to customers.

During the time the pair were involved in the fraud the phone companies lost devices valued about $214,000, with another $88,000 of orders cancelled before being delivered.

Manjinder and Dilpreet Singh could not have misunderstood that the scheme was dishonest, agreeing to take part after satisfying themselves no drug distribution was involved, Judge Carl Heaton said.

They were offered $200 to $300 per parcel depending on the value of the device it contained.

Manjinder managed the bank account into which $40,000 was paid over eight months in 2021 and shared with Dilpreet and drivers they recruited.

The scheme was discovered after StarTrack managers noticed a large number of parcels going missing in the delivery areas where Dilpreet and his associates worked.

Details of deliveries and packages found on Dilpreet's phone provided significant evidence of the fraud.

Judge Heaton accepted the men were recruited by others but said they did not have a momentary lapse in judgment.

"This was a deliberate, concerted commitment to act dishonestly over a significant period of time with significant consequences in terms of loss to others," he said.

"In essence, you saw the opportunity for easy money and you took it."

Judge Heaton sentenced the men to three years behind bars, ordering they be released after serving six months.

The remainder of the jail term is suspended for four years.