Police believe the missing man – who has likely been murdered – was linked with the fraudulent use of a debit card which was ultimately used to steal $6.326 million from a bank account held by the Bank of East Asia.

Quyen Tu Au at the ATM on 15 August 2000

Photographs: ATM vision of Mr Au

Mr Au was reported missing 18 months after the images were captured by police officers from the Major Fraud Section who were investigating his suspected involvement in the theft.

Despite extensive inquiries in South Australia and other States and Territories, the last confirmed contact with Mr Au, who was born in Vietnam but moved to South Australia when he was aged 14, was when he rang a friend from his mobile phone at 12.54pm on 15 August 2000.

Just minutes before that call investigators know that Mr Au used the stolen bank debit card to withdraw $6,000 from a National Australia Bank (NAB) ATM in Port Adelaide.

Detective Inspector Greg Hutchins, from Major Crime, said this unauthorised withdrawal of cash was just a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle of this case which has been investigated by experts from both the SA Police Major Fraud and Major Crime sections.

The debit card at the centre of the matter was stolen in Brisbane on 19 May 2000 from a student from Hong Kong.  Because of a computer processing error, the stolen card was able to be used to make unlimited cash withdrawals from NAB ATMs.

The first unauthorised transaction occurred on 28 July 2000, and in total prior to 15 August, Mr Au was recorded on security cameras on 41 occasions conducting 465 transactions.

The last of those were the ones conducted on 15 August, when Mr Au made 12 transactions – the last recorded at 12:35pm. By that time about $396,000 had been stolen from the bank account.

After that date, three other people are recorded on ATM security cameras using the card to withdraw funds from the account.

On 19 October 2000, the NAB became aware of the unauthorised transactions being conducted using the stolen card and the card was retained by an ATM at the Tea Tree Plaza Shopping Centre during an attempted transaction.

“That’s when police were first advised of this matter and began a full investigation,” Detective Inspector Hutchins said.

“We believe that between 28 July 2000 and 19 October 2000 the stolen card was used 6,797 times to withdraw a total of $6,326,320.00, principally in $50 notes from NAB ATMs. “

In November that year police searched 16 Adelaide addresses as part of the investigation and found about $4.07 million in cash under the floorboards of the main bedroom of a property in Kitchener Street, Kilburn.

Four people were arrested and charged with offences relating to the use of the stolen card and the theft of the $6.326 million, however despite extensive inquiries, Mr Au (pictured below) has never been located.

“We know that until 5 August 2000, Mr Au was residing at Rosewater Lodge in Rosewater, but we also have information – supplied anonymously via Crime Stoppers – that he was staying at the Kitchener St address where the cash was found,” Detective Inspector Hutchins said.

“We believe this case is solvable – we only need one final piece of information from the right caller to finally fit the full jigsaw puzzle together.

“This case is being reviewed as part of Operation Persist, the Major Crime-led cold case campaign, and as part of that has been featured in the Sunday Mail today.

“There is a $200,000 reward available in connection with this case – not just for information leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible, but for the recovery of Mr Au’s remains.

“His family and friends are entitled to know what became of their loved one and we are appealing for help in bringing some resolution to this matter.”

Quyen Tu Au

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