July 16, 2024

A Perth man has been charged with allegedly setting up Wi-Fi networks to collect personal data from innocent users.

Michael Clapsis, from Palmyra, is accused of using the networks at multiple airports and on flights.

It’s alleged the father-of-three used a portable wireless access device to create free Wi-Fi networks to lure unsuspecting users into believing they were real.

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Clapsis appeared in Perth Magistrates Court today facing nine serious offences.

The 42-year-old was arrested by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) after they launched an investigation in April.

An airline reported a suspicious Wi-Fi network found by its employees during a domestic flight.

When people tried to connect their devices, they were allegedly taken to a fake webpage asking them to sign in using their email or social media logins.

Those harvested details could allegedly be used to access more personal information including photos and bank details.

Police also identified data being used at Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide airports and on domestic flights.

Clapsis was granted bail on strict conditions, including restricting online activities. He can’t access the internet, social media or online services unless it’s for medical purposes, work, MyGov or streaming services.

Authorities say it’s a timely warning about using public networks.

“If you do want to use public Wi-Fi, consider installing a virtual private network on your device to encrypt and secure your data,” Andrea Coleman from the AFP said.

They also recommend disabling file sharing and not doing sensitive activities, such as banking, over public networks.

Clapsis wasn’t required to enter a plea and will next face court in August.

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