Backpackers were recently targeted in a money laundering scam involving counterfeit gold and jewelry.
Backpackers caught in fool's gold ring
The 29-year-old Gold Coast man allegedly lured dozens of primarily Asian tourists to work for him to sell the fake gold and other precious metals to dealers.
As part of their employment, they surrendered their passports.
Police say the man then set up bank accounts in their names, using them to launder the proceeds of crime.
Supt Hay said the syndicate saw backpackers as an easy target.
"They come to this country with an element of trust in the Australian way of life and ... they're here for a short period of time," he said.
"They won't be in this country for such a long time as to hang around and possibly give evidence against that person."
It seems the backpackers were recruited from message boards in hostels and from ads in community newspapers.