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• Free Trial Products:  Social media sites are often used to lure people into signing up for free trials on products.  These scams usually involve the participant signing up for a free trial of a product which is often not genuine instructing them to provide their payment card details upfront.  The victim then becomes tied into a fixed period contract unbeknownst to them and have provided their payment card details to an unknown individual.

• Investment Scams: Opportunities are advertised on social media sites to invest in products or businesses which are often fake or do not exist.  All investment opportunities should be fully researched prior to handing over any money.

• SOS or HELP Messages: This scam involves social media account holders receiving messages from persons in their “friends” or “contacts” list saying that they are in trouble in a foreign country and need help.  This message usually requests that they transfer money to an account in a foreign country.  The content of the messages varies but popular ones tell the story that the person has been arrested and needs money for bail or that they have fallen ill and need money for hospital treatment.  These scams are also perpetrated by email.

• Work from Home Opportunities: Job opportunities are often advertised on social media sites and give the incentive of working from home.  These opportunities request payment upfront for training or goods that do not exist.  One such scam seeks people to act as a financial controller for a company and the criminal forwards a cheque to the account of the target.  It is then requested that the funds are transferred to various bank accounts worldwide.  In these cases the cheques are often counterfeit and the target ends up transferring their own money prior to the cheque clearing.  This scam is also used as a method of money laundering the proceeds of crime.

 Fake Friend Requests:  Social media account holders receive friend requests from people that they do not know or from people already in their contacts who have had their accounts hacked.  Accepting these requests causes your account and that of your friends to be hacked and the personal data accessed. • Twishing:  This is a combination of the words Twitter and Phishing and is a form of phishing in which a message is received on a person’s Twitter account in an attempt to obtain personal or security data by directing the recipient to a bogus website.

• Clickbait:  This is a post on social media which is worded in a way to attract the users’ attention and persuade them to click on the link to find out more.  Often times these links are to bogus websites which seek to compromise your personal or security data.

• Online Shopping Fraud:  Criminals set up fake online shopping sites in order to obtain the payment card details of victims and steal money from their bank accounts.  These sites look genuine and often offer discounts to attract victims.  It is only when the victim does not receive their goods that they become suspicious but at this stage their payment card details have been compromised.

Crime Prevention Advice

• Never send money to a third party unless you can trust their bona fides. • Be wary of unsolicited contacts or where the contact appears to be based in other jurisdictions.

• Be wary when the avenues for contacting the other party are limited.

• Push for direct answers and if responses are vague disengage immediately.

• Never give personal, financial or security information to persons who are unknown to you.

• If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

• Do your research and accept nothing as fact until you have satisfied yourself that it is genuine.

If you think that you have been a victim of fraud and your bank account has been used or compromised in any way you should report the matter immediately to your bank or financial institution to minimise any financial loss to you. Likewise, if you believe your social media account or other forms of communication have been compromised you should report the matter to the appropriate company to ensure that any evidence is retained and that no further harm can be done.

If you are not sure whether you are a victim of fraud it is better to err on the side of caution and report the matter to your local Garda Station and /or financial institution if relevant without delay.

Even though you have not been a victim of crime on this occasion, fraudsters often use the same methods to commit fraud. Any attempted fraud should be reported to An Garda Síochána and to your financial institution if relevant without delay. Your information may prevent other incidents of fraud  and assist in identifying the fraudster.

In the first instance, contact your bank and determine whether it was you who took the money out as you may have forgotten.  Analyse your statement to ascertain when the money was taken.  Look out for foreign transactions or online transactions.  If another person has access to the account, ask them if they carried out the transactions.

Where you believe a crime has been committed and money may have been fraudulently taken from your account, report it immediately to your local Garda station.

All members of An Garda Síochána can investigate crimes of a fraudulent nature and many members throughout the country have received specialist training in this area of crime investigation. In that context reports should be made in the first instance to your local Garda station. The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) is a specialist Bureau within An Garda Síochána that investigates the more serious and complex cases of economic crime, and cases which are deemed unsuitable for local attention are forwarded to that section for investigation. The Bureau also provides assistance to local investigations.

Section 19 Criminal Justice Act 2011 places a legal obligation on you to report to An Garda Síochána, information relating to possible frauds which you know or believe might prevent the fraud being committed, or secure the apprehension prosecution or conviction of a person involved in fraudulent activity. You should report this information to your local Garda Station.

Fraud is where a person is financially cheated by another person.

Fraud occurs when an individual deceives another by inducing them to do something or not do something that results in a financial loss. The fraud can be committed either online, in person on via correspondence.

1. Payment Card Fraud:

This type of fraud involves the use of stolen or counterfeit payment cards to make direct purchases or cash withdrawals. It also includes the use of stolen card data to buy items over the phone or via the internet.

Crime Prevention Advice

• Keep your card in a safe place at all times. Do not leave it lying around. Report it to your bank immediately if it is lost or stolen.

• Keep your PIN safe. Do Not write it down, Do Not keep it with your card and Do Not give it to anyone.

• If you are expecting a card or a PIN in the post and it does not arrive, notify your card issuer immediately.

• Sign any new cards as soon as they arrive from your bank or card issuer. Ensure that you cut up the old cards as soon as the new ones become valid.

• Cover your PIN when making in-store purchases or using an ATM.

• Keep your card in sight when paying for goods or services.

2. Invoice Redirection Fraud:

This type of fraud involves criminals contacting businesses or sellers usually by email, but sometimes by phone or other means of communication. The criminal pretends to be a supplier of goods or services that you already do business with and requests that the bank account details recorded for the legitimate supplier are changed on your financial system. The next time an invoice arrives from the legitimate supplier the payment is sent to an account controlled by the criminal instead of the supplier. This results in significant financial loss which may not be identified until a reminder email is received from the legitimate supplier. In such cases not only does the business lose money but they still have an outstanding invoice to pay to the legitimate supplier.

Crime Prevention Advice

• Ensure that all staff are aware of this type of fraud and that all requests to change bank account details are brought to the attention of a supervisor for consideration.

• Always make a phone call or direct contact with a known contact at the suppliers that has requested the change of account details to verify whether the request is correct.

• Ensure the contact is made independently and never respond directly by using the contact details contained in the email or provided by the sender as you may be contacting the fraudster.

3. CEO Fraud:

This type of fraud is similar to Invoice Redirection Fraud however in this case junior employees in the finance department of a company receive an email from a criminal purporting to be the Chief Executive Officer stating that an important deal or some other urgent matter is pending and that a substantial payment needs to be processed immediately. Overawed by the involvement of the CEO, and the tone of the email which generally insists on secrecy, the employee acts on the email instruction and transfers a substantial sum of money to the specified bank to close the deal. It subsequently transpires when the employee plucks up the courage to tell someone else, that the CEO is oblivious to the transaction and that the email provided was false. By the time the fraud is detected the money is often gone.

Crime Prevention Advice

• Training is a key element to avoiding this type of fraud by educating both CEO’s, senior executives and staff about emails or communications of this nature.

• Staff should be empowered to question requests of this nature.

• Companies should have very clear policies and procedures in place, known to all employees for verifying payment transfers or high level requests from senior management.

• The use of additional verification processes should be utilised by employees as a matter of course. A phone call to the CEO to assist in confirming the transaction or a visual communication should be mandatory.

4. Email Fraud otherwise known as Phishing:

This type of fraud involves criminals making contact by email and can take a number of forms. The email may appear to be from a reputable company however when one clicks on the email or attachment or link within the email, malicious software (malware) is downloaded onto the PC or other device allowing the criminal to track online activity and identify personal or financial information for fraudulent purposes. Both individuals and companies can be victims of this type of crime.

In other cases, the criminal uses temptation as a means to extract money from you by pretending that you have won or inherited a large sum of money to convince you to provide personal or banking details or to transfer money.

Crime Prevention Advice

• Don’t open unsolicited emails.

• Don’t respond to any unsolicited email seeking personal, financial or security advice.

• Never click on a link or attachment in an unsolicited email.

• If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

• If you believe the email is from a genuine source, verify this independently. Independently means independent of the email sender

• Independently verify any requests for information and never use the contact details supplied to you by the caller or texter. Independent means independent of the caller or texter.

5. Phone Fraud otherwise known as Vishing or Smishing:

This type of fraud involves criminals contacting you by phone (vishing) or by text (Smishing) pretending to be your bank, credit card issuer, utility company or often a computer company. During the conversation they will try and trick you into giving personal, banking or security information. They may also convince you to make a money transfer to them or inform you that you have won a prize and need to send money to release it. Their intention is to use this information to commit fraud against you or other parties in your name.

Crime Prevention Advice

• Always say “NO” to unsolicited callers or texters seeking private information about you. Private information includes your name, address, date of birth, family details, bank account numbers, PIN, Passwords

• Independently verify any requests for information and never use the contact details supplied to you by the caller or texter. Independent means independent of the caller or texter.

• The caller may already have some information about you so don’t trust them because they use your name or other personal information.

• An Garda Síochána or your bank will never look for your Banking PIN number or Password or ask you to transfer money, or come to your home to collect your payment card, cheque book or cash.

6. Advance Fee Fraud:

This type of fraud involves criminals targeting victims to make advance or upfront payments for goods, services or financial gains that do not materialize. These can take many forms including:

i. Rental Fraud where would-be tenants are tricked into paying a fee to rent a property that doesn’t exist.

ii. Romance Fraud where a victim unknowingly forms an online relationship with a criminal who is using a fake online profile who then asks for money for sick relatives or to come and visit. They may also seek personal information with intent to commit fraud.

iii. Inheritance Fraud where the criminal pretends that someone very rich has died and has left you a large sum of money and will organize the payment of the inheritance for a fee.

iv. Lottery Fraud where the victim is told that they have won a lottery or prize draw and need to pay money to release the funds.

v. Ticket fraud where tickets are bought online that do not materialize.

vi. Ghost Broker /Car Insurance frauds where the insurance product does not exist or cover what it claims to do.

vii. Investment fraud where investment opportunities are advertised online which do not exist.

Crime Prevention Advice

• If it seems too good to be true it probably is.

• Beware of unsolicited offers of service or benefits.

• Ensure that you have independently verified the identity of the person or company you are dealing with and if that is not possible end contact immediately.

• Never give any personal financial or security information to any person or company unless you have satisfied yourself that they are genuine.

• Be wary if you are asked to transfer money to non-identifiable locations such as PO Boxes or through Money Transfer companies rather than bank accounts.

Incidents of fraud occurring in this jurisdiction should be reported to your local Garda station who can investigate the matter on your behalf. If you live outside this jurisdiction you should report the matter to your local police station and ask that the complaint be forwarded to this jurisdiction for investigation.

We would advise before engaging in a financial transaction to pay down a deposit and/or rent, that you see the property first and establish that the person renting it owns and has access to the property. It is advisable to use an ESCROW account where possible to ensure funds are not released until you are certain that it is a legitimate transaction. Where you believe you have been a victim of such a fraud, please report to your local Garda station/police station if you reside outside Ireland.

While rental scams occur throughout the year there is a spike due to a new generation of 3rd level students seeking accommodation. The scams fall into three broad categories:

 1. the scammer claims to be out of the country and can’t show you the property and requests a deposit,

 2. the scammer is living at the property and shows a number of people around, gets a deposit from several people and disappears with the money; and

 3. the transaction appears normal until the renter finds that the keys don’t work and the landlord has disappeared. Therefore people need to establish that the house exists and that is available for rent and the• identity of landlord /agent & is he/she authorised to rent the property.

1. Ideally only do business with established bon-fide rental agencies.

2. Always meet a prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.

3. Ask for identification, a driver’s licence or Photo identification of landlord or letting agent. etc. (Take a photo of the document on your phone)

4. Pay the deposit to the Landlord and not the persons leaving the property/ courier other person.

5. Use cheques or bank drafts to pay the deposit and keep copies of receipts of payments and any correspondence.

6. Ensure keys fit, open door lock and sign rental contract, prior to payment of deposit.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) rent index provides students with important benchmark information and is an authoritative guide as to the actual rents being charged by landlords adjacent to all Universities, ITs and other Third Level colleges. www.rtb.ie. Caution is advised, if the rent sounds too good to be true.

Useful Links:

Residential Tenancies Board – ‘Checklist for Students Renting for the First Time’

Threshold: ‘Be Careful of Rent Scams’ 

Property Services Regulatory Authority’s Website

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Report to your local Garda station and retain any information that would assist in the investigation of your complaint e.g. copies of an email.

Please ensure that you secure insurance with reputable company which is registered within Republic of Ireland before paying for any services. This includes travel, car, house insurance etc.

This may in turn result in civil or criminal charges. If you believe it is criminal, then contact your local Garda station.

Report the matter immediately to your bank or financial institution who can assess your transactions and monitor these for any unusual activity. If you ascertain that you have been a victim of fraud you should report the matter to your local Garda station.

Immediately inform your bank to close/freeze your card and inform your local Garda station. Try to retrace your steps if you recently used the card somewhere you don’t normally.  Try to remember if there was any time when you were not in control of your card or if it was taken out of your sight in order for a payment to be processed. It is worth noting that card skimming may not necessarily have occurred in the very recent past and weeks and months may pass before any unlawful transactions is carried out on the accounts of the injured parties. 

Be vigilant about who it is that is contacting you, identify whether contact was initiated by you and whether this email is unsolicited. Never transfer money to an unknown source. Where this has occurred, report it in the first instance to your local Garda station.

Never send money to unknown people as a result of an unsolicited email.

It depends – it needs to be assessed. Once you report the incident to your local Garda station, it may in turn be forwarded to the assessment unit in the Economic Crime Bureau who will determine whether the complaint is civil and/or criminal.

You are required to comply with the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 (Section 42) by making a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) to An Garda Síochána (FIU Ireland) and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

Firstly, your entity needs to register on GoAML with FIU Ireland (GoAML Website) in order to submit an STR electronically. Please note that if you are trying to register as a person you will first need to be part of an organisation which is already registered.

You must also submit a printed version of each STR to the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

The Anti-Bribery and Corruption Unit has a specific mandate to investigate and prevent instances of bribery and corruption involving Irish citizens and business entities, both domestically and internationally.  A person who has either a suspicion or documentary proof that corrupt practices are taking place should report the matter to An Garda Síochána.  Any member of An Garda Síochána at any Garda Station can take a report of an incident of this nature.

On receipt of a complaint, the Bureau will conduct an assessment to determine whether a crime has taken place and will then either proceed with the investigation itself or assign responsibility to the relevant Garda District.

The Anti-Bribery and Corruption Unit can also be contacted directly via the Confidential Reporting Line at 1800 40 60 80 or by email at gnecb_acu@garda.ie. All information received is evaluated by that Unit.

All complaints of CEO or Invoice Redirect Fraud should be reported to your local Garda station and Financial Institution immediately as fraudulent transactions of this nature can move very quickly and it is important that immediate efforts are made to stop the transactions being completed. Even if the fraud has not been successful in your case, it is possible that the bogus account is being used for other incidents of this nature and reporting it may prevent further incidents of fraud.

The GNECB is a specialist bureau that investigates fraud-related crime involving complex issues of criminal law or procedure. The bureau investigates serious and complex cases of commercial fraud, cheque and payment card fraud, counterfeit currency, money laundering, computer crime and breaches of the Companies Acts and the Competition Act. It is made up of the following sections:

  • Assessment Unit 
  • Serious Economic Crime Investigation Units
  • Financial Intelligence Unit 
  • Money Laundering Investigation Units - MLU
  • Payment Crime and Counterfeit Currency Unit
  • Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (on secondment)
  • Anti-Bribery and Corruption Unit

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is embedded within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB – formerly GBFI), and is a national reception point for Suspicious Transaction Reports (STR) submitted under Irish money laundering legislation by all the financial institutions and other designated bodies/persons, namely accountants, solicitors, dealers in high-value goods, auctioneers, etc. The FIU is supported by the Money Laundering Investigation Unit (MLIU).

Functions of FIU

• Receipt, analysis and dissemination for investigation of STRs to relevant Garda units.

• The FIU analyses and disseminates STRs and intelligence gained, to other national units within An Garda Síochána and Gardaí throughout the country for investigation and potential further action.

• Designated bodies/persons are required to report STRs to both the FIU and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

• The FIU analyses STRs which have potential domestic or international terrorist financing links.

• The FIU actively cooperates with law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions in matters relating to suspected money laundering and terrorist financing.

• The FIU provides training to members of An Garda Síochána throughout the country to create awareness of the value of financial intelligence in the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and all criminality.

• The FIU is the central reception point for the receipt of reports of suspicions of Money Laundering and/or Terrorist Financing from competent authorities / supervisory bodies. (Section 63 of the Criminal Justice [Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing] Act 2010).

MLIU – Money Laundering Investigation Unit

• The Money Laundering Investigation Unit, or ‘MLIU’, supports the FIU within GNECB and it investigates complex money laundering cases and/or cases which have cross-jurisdictional links.

• It extracts information from the analysis of STRs allowing for the instigation of criminal investigations.

• Suspected terrorist financing can also be investigated by the MLIU.

• The MLIU also provides advice and assistance to other members of An Garda Síochána who are investigating cases of suspected complex Money Laundering and/or suspected terrorist financing. 

Gardaí are advising people to beware of Romance Scams.

Victims of the scam believe they have met their perfect match online, but the other person is in fact a scammer using a fake profile to build the relationship. They slowly gain the victim’s trust with a view to eventually asking them for money.

One Irish woman was showered with expensive gifts, including scarves and perfumes, before she was asked to invest in her suitor’s business. Over a thirteen (13) month period, the woman gave the romance fraudster €48,000. The woman initially delayed reporting the fraud to Gardaí as she was married.

The extent of the scam is not fully known because many of the victims are too embarrassed to report the fraud to Gardaí.

Detective Inspector Catharina Gunne from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau warns: "Romance fraudsters may try to get their victims to send them money using the following excuses:

• to cover the cost of travelling to see the victim;
• for emergency medical expenses for the scammer or a family member — typically a child;
• a business opportunity which would allow them to live together comfortably.

In the beginning, the amount of money requested will often be small but increases as the scammer becomes more successful in building the ‘relationship’ and tricking the victim.”

Recently, a romance fraudster in the west of Ireland was found guilty of taking nearly €19,000 from a victim. The perpetrator obtained money through deception over a five (5) month period after meeting the victim through a dating website.

An Garda Síochána works closely with Europol to disrupt the activities of romance scammers, particularly organised crime gangs that engage in this type of criminality. Dating websites are often monitored for criminality.

What are the Signs?

Romance Fraudsters will:

• Try to move communications away from dating websites. They suggest that you move to instant messaging, text or phone calls instead.
• Ask a lot of personal questions.
• Avoid answering personal questions about themselves. The details that they do tell you seem made up or do not reflect reality. For instance, they may say that they’re university educated, but their spelling and grammar is poor.
• Try to establish a bond quickly. For example, they may give you an endearing pet name e.g. baby, darling, etc.
• Ask for financial help. They may tell you about money problems in the hope that you’ll offer to help.
• Never meet you in person. They will present obstacles and may go as far as making arrangements and cancelling them at the last minute. They may promise to want to see you but offer excuses which delay this, such as financial troubles.

What can you do?

1. Use trusted dating websites.
2. Do not share personal details.
3. Do not send or receive money.
4. Think twice before using your webcam.
5. Trust your instincts.

Are you a victim?

If you believe that you are a victim of a romance scam, or think your identity or personal information has been compromised, contact any Garda Station and report the crime. Please be assured that An Garda Síochána will treat all reports in confidence.

Video advice is available here: