Taxi boss accused of running fraudulent e-tag syndicate

A taxi-company owner has been arrested over allegations that he ran a $2.2 million e-tag scam that involved dodgy credit cards being used to fund the devices.

The 37-year-old man has been charged with 204 fraud-related offences, while two drivers were also picked up and hit with a combined 67 fraud offences.

The trio, arrested in the Sydney suburbs of Smithfield, Blacktown and Punchbowl, are accused of circulating 870 fake tags across five years, most of which were sold to taxi drivers.

Authorities flagged more arrests are likely to come as police track down more alleged members of the syndicate.

Financial Crimes Squad detectives began investigating the purported e-tag ring in January after allegations they were selling road-tolling devices linked to false payment methods, including shonky credit cards sourced on the dark web.

The syndicate bought around 10,000 compromised identities and banking details that were linked to the tags, paying around $150,000 for the information, police allege.

Searches at the properties led to the seizure of 74 e-tags, $25,000 in cash and a 2019 Mercedes AMG, along with toll notices and electronic devices.

Police say a shipment of fraudulent e-tags arrived at the Granville property during their search.

Officials checking e-tags at Sydney airport.
Police say the fraudulent e-tags were mostly sold to taxi drivers. (HANDOUT/NSW POLICE)

Financial Crimes Squad commander Gordon Arbinja said police were holding those behind the fraud accountable.

"It's about standing up for the honest people of NSW that pay their tolls using their own means," he said on Wednesday.

"This investigation, and the actual syndicate, was actually quite simple … what they did was purchase legitimate e-tolls from the two providers and they were funded with fraudulent credit means."

Along with the fraud charges, the alleged ringleader was arrested in Smithfield and charged with directing a criminal group and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

A 38-year-old man was arrested in Blacktown and charged with 32 fraud offences, accessory before the fact of dealing with the proceeds of crime and participating in a criminal group.

A 28-year-old man was arrested in Punchbowl and charged with 35 fraud offences, as well as participating in a criminal group.

All three men were refused bail and two were due to face court on Wednesday, while the third appeared in court on Tuesday.

Following the arrests, police ran an operation at the taxi marshalling area of Sydney Airport on Tuesday.

Officers spoke to 200 taxi drivers and confiscated 12 e-tags believed to be part of the fraudulent scheme as part of the probe.

"Some taxi drivers wouldn't even know they've got these tags that have been compromised with false credit card details," Detective Superintendent Arbinja said.

"The majority were doing the right thing … if you suspect you have one of these e-tags that are loaded with these credit cards that don't belong to the toll provider, by all means come to the police."