Accused conman Peter Foster was “surprised” by police and attempted to run from officers during a dramatic arrest at a regional Victorian property where he had been hiding for months.
The 59-year-old had been on the run for several months after being accused of impersonating someone online in a scam to take Bitcoin from a Hong Kong man.
Australian Federal Police officers nabbed Foster on Tuesday at a property in Gisborne in Victoria’s prestigious Macedon Ranges.
AFP Superintendent Jared Taggart said the notorious conman ran straight through a flyscreen door and tried to hide under a deck in a desperate attempt to evade police.
“I think it would be fair to say that Mr Foster was probably surprised by the presence of our specialist teams there at the property yesterday,” he told the Today show.
Superintendent Taggart said AFP officers used world-leading technology and specialist capability to track the conman down.
“They’re deliberately and aggressively tracking down fugitives like this who are living in our communities … no matter where they are, they’ve got the ability to operate across all of Australia in close co-operation with our state police counterparts,” he said.
Fugitives try to evade police by relying on others and “putting special arrangements in place” to avoid detection, Superintendent Taggart said.
“Certainly, that‘s not been the case in this instance,” he said.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan told reporters on Tuesday that Foster “didn’t get far from the back door” during his attempted escape.
The alleged criminal was discovered hiding at the home with another person and will be extradited to Queensland.
Police said Foster was suffering from an undisclosed medical condition and was being assessed at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Mr Ryan said he believed Foster had been at the house for a number of months.
“I would say he was living quite comfortably where he was located,” he said.
“He was located at the premises with another individual – that is currently subject to investigation as to what assistance has been provided or not by that individual.”
Foster was dramatically arrested in Port Douglas in August 2020 and extradited to NSW over allegations he orchestrated a multimillion-dollar Bitcoin scam through an online sports trading operation.
Police allege he conned $1.7m in Bitcoin out of a retired pilot in Hong Kong through the alias Bill Dawson.
The conman allegedly promised a series of investors “guaranteed returns” on their money through the use of a mathematician predicting the outcome of sports matches.
Police say the pilot transferred $2m in Bitcoin over nine months in 2019 and 2020.
The 59-year-old Foster was granted bail in March after serving seven months on remand.
But when he allegedly failed to appear at a scheduled court hearing on May 20, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Lawyer Justin Lewis was due to meet him in court at 2pm, but Foster never showed.
“My client was at my office, I saw him with my own eyes,” Mr Lewis said.
“He conveyed to me that he was coming down to court and I haven’t been able to locate him since.”
The arrest comes after six months of intense detective work, with police using a host of intelligence information that led them to Mr Ford.
Detectives only recently pinpointed the property as a place of interest.