The NSW Police force has hired a former hacker to help assist with an "extremely sensitive" investigation.
Hiring black-hats, as they are called in industry circles, is not unknown within law enforcement agencies, but it is uncommon, police sources say.
The practice is banned in many security organisations, as it is seen as too risky to place individuals with a propensity to commit crime in sensitive areas.
However, NSW Police has said the hacker is a benefit, although it would not elaborate further as the case is currently under investigation.
NSW Police hosts a squad which coordinates fraud investigations across the state, ranging from cases of cheap eBay rip-offs to multi-million-dollar corporate fraud.
Detectives coordinate investigations with counterparts in other states and have an analyst on hand who corroborates evidence to determine, among other things, if multiple crimes are related.
In the case of eBay fraud, the NSW Police said the unit would hand off the arrest to local detectives.
Safe as houses
The affluent Sydney suburbs may enjoy a lower crime rate than other areas, but they are veritable candy-store for online criminals.
Respectably-dressed felons hit Sydney's east to raid apartment mailboxes in search of letters containing residents' names and addresses — fodder for identity theft which NSW Police said is the basis of all fraud crime.
"They may have a security guard on site but noone notices a guy dressed [in a suit] around the letterbox," it said.
Thieves possess master keys to open mailboxes and bring stolen mail to central locations where they are categorised.
The identities are used to steal money, and create bank accounts and online identities like those on eBay.