Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says it is ‘beyond frustrating’ that inmates in immigration detention centres are granted access to mobile phones.
His comment comes in the wake of allegations Fisayo Oluwafemi ran a $3 million email scam from inside Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre.
Police seized 16 mobile phones, numerous SIM cards, identification information, and various electronic storage devices found in the facility.
Police have reason to believe the 43-year-old is the ring leader of a crime syndicate that targeted not only businesses, but women looking for love.
“Mate, it drives me mad,” Mr Dutton told 2GB radio on Thursday.
“They’re organising escapes, they’re organising assaults, organising all sorts of things that just aren’t consistent with being in immigration detention,” Mr Dutton said of people doing the wrong thing in the facility.
Under the alleged scam, emails were sent out from falsified email addresses encouraging recipients to reveal personal details including credit card numbers, account names and passwords.
The emails also allegedly urged people to send money in exchange for love or goods.
Mr Oluwafemi was taken to Bankstown Police Station and charged with knowingly directing activities of a criminal group, two counts of knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime, and possessing illegally obtained identity information.
The group scam allegedly included two women and one man, all of African descent, and the majority of funds were sent back to Nigeria.
Mr Dutton said it defied common sense for immigration detainees to have access to mobile phones, given they can use landlines to contact their lawyers if needed.
“I’ve tried to get the bill through parliament and for whatever reason the Labor Party won’t support it,” he said.
“These people shouldn’t have mobile phones in the centres.”
Harriette Bangura, 36, who is accused of working with Mr Oluwafemi, was also arrested by the strike force on September 4.
She has been charged with 11 counts of knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
Search warrants were executed for the Kingswood mother’s property in Sydney’s west and a Hoxton Park storage unit where police seized computers, electronic storage devices, mobile phones, sim cards, and documentation.
The woman’s Land Rover was also seized from a car park at St Mary’s, which police believe was purchased with criminal proceeds.
Ms Bangura was granted strict conditional bail to reappear at Downing Centre Local Court on November 1.
Police will allege in court she was involved in the laundering of more than $480,000 under Oluwafemi’s alleged scam racket.
The strike force also raided homes in Chester Hill and Granville, in Sydney’s west.
Police seized computers, mobile phones, SIM cards, methamphetamine and identity and financial documents – all believed to have been stolen.
The raids led to the arrest of a man and woman on September 5, both 20, at the Chester Hill property.
The pair are accused of working with Mr Oluwafemi.
The 20-year-old man was charged with seven counts of recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime, possess identity information with intent to commit an indictable offence and possess drug implement.
Police attest he was involved in the syndicate and laundered $90,000.
The 20-year-old woman allegedly laundered $17,000 fraudulently under Oluwafemi’s alleged scam racket.
She was charged with knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
The 20-year-olds were granted strict conditional bail and are due to appear at Parramatta Local Court on October 2.
A third woman, 36, was also arrested at the Granville property for drug related offences. She is due to appear at Parramatta Local Court on October 2.
The investigation is ongoing.