Australian Teen Charged With Defrauding Bank of $2 Million

An 18-year-old Brisbane, Australia, student has been charged with defrauding Queensland's biggest bank of $2 million in a case that has set off alarm bells about online banking security.

Philip Heggie, who is enrolled to study business at University of Queensland, appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on New Year's Day charged with fraud and attempted fraud.

The alleged offenses involved online banking and false identification.

The money was allegedly transferred from an internal account where Suncorp holds a large percentage of the bank's own money.

Just two days before the teenager's arrest, Suncorp general manager Terry Wasmund was praising the bank's award-winning Internet banking scheme.

Wasmund said that after online security attacks in the mid-1990s, security measures had improved and Queenslanders had embraced online services.

The bank was recently awarded the best Australian-based transactional web and mobile service.

A Suncorp spokesman said Friday the bank would review its systems and procedures and continue to assist police.

Heggie, of Eight Mile Plains, was arrested last Thursday after he allegedly tried to withdraw $5,000 from the $2 million account at Suncorp's Garden City branch.

A detective said in a statement tendered in court that a teller had reacted to "a gut feeling" and police were then contacted.

An unknown Suncorp staff member is believed by police to have processed the $2 million transfer from the internal account into an account Heggie allegedly set up under the false name of Shane Seato.

According to documents tendered to the court, about the time he tried to withdraw the $5,000, Heggie sent a mobile phone text message to an unknown person saying: "Best day of the next 20 years of my life. If all goes well, drinks are on me tonight."

Six weeks earlier, Heggie had been cautioned, but not charged, by police after Customs intercepted false identifications addressed to the student, the court was told.

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