Insider Threat Story #30: One Coin At A Time

There is a well-known saying…

“How do you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

While this is a great metaphor, there are many such sayings and metaphors that convey the idea of breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps:

  • “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
  • “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
  • “Little by little, the bird builds its nest.”
  • “You can’t boil the ocean.”
  • “How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.”

If that is the case…

How do you steal half a tonne (500 kgs) of gold?”

“One coin at a time.”

By the way, this has nothing to do with the OneCoin. The story of how Ruja Ignatova made $4bn selling fake cryptocurrency to the world and then disappeared…

The story I’m about to mention concerns a man who smuggled half a tonne of $2 coins out of the Royal Australian Mint.

What Happened?

Over ten months, this Canberra man stole 77,000 coins worth $155,000 out of the Royal Mint.

The question is: How did he do it?

As a worker in the Mint’s coining hall, he had direct access to the money and usually took the coins at the end of his shift.

He would take the coins from the trays they were placed in after stamping and conceal them in his pocket.

He would then go to a toilet cubicle, transfer the coins from his pockets to his boots and walk out through security.

He stole about $600 in $2 coins each time he did this.

He was able to avoid scrutiny because most workers at the mint wore steel-capped shoes, which set off metal detectors, and they were not required to remove them during random screening.

How Did He Get Caught?

The plan came unstuck when he was arrested after trying to exchange the coins at various businesses in the Victorian city of Bendigo.

Key Takeaways

  • Insider threats: The Mint worker exemplifies an insider threat, as he exploited his access to steal coins over time.
  • Motivation: His motivation was likely financial gain, prompting him to risk his job for the stolen coins.
  • Security controls: The theft highlights a lack of adequate security controls at the Royal Australian Mint, which failed to detect the ongoing theft for ten months.
  • Ethical conduct: The worker’s actions were a clear breach of ethical conduct, violating the trust and integrity expected from employees.
  • Trust: The incident underscores the fragile nature of trust within an organisation, demonstrating how a trusted employee with trusted access can exploit their position.
  • “One Coin at a Time”: The worker’s methodical theft, smuggling coins bit by bit in his boots and lunchbox, illustrates how small, consistent actions can lead to significant cumulative results. By stealing small amounts regularly, he could amass a considerable quantity of stolen coins without immediately raising suspicion, highlighting how persistent minor breaches can lead to substantial losses over time.

You can read this article here.

Something To Think About

My question to you: Why would someone risk their job to steal a few coins at a time, and what small signs might show bigger problems with trust and security in a secure place like the Mint?

Other Examples

  • A former Royal Canadian Mint smuggles $190,000 worth of gold coins apparently in his rectum. You can find this extraordinary story here.
  • Perth Mint (Western Australia) IT contractor stole $55,000 in gold coins and bars to fund fiancée’s lifestyle demands. You can read about this story here.
  • Thieves, with the help of the security guard of the Berlin Museum, stole an enormous $4.3 million gold coin and probably melted it down. You can learn more about this story here.