Coronavirus fraud warnings as scammers target newly unemployed

Fraudsters claim to be processing welfare payments and ask for bank details over phone

Fraudsters have sought to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis by trying to trick members of the public into surrendering their banks details over the phone.

Callers have claimed to be processing social welfare payments available from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to those people who have lost their jobs due to the infection outbreak.

The Department said it had become aware of the scam and confirmed the fraudsters were seeking bank details from those people they were targeting.

It added it “wished to make it absolutely clear” that it never requested bank account or other financial institution account details from its customers by phone or on social media.


“Nor do we clarify or check this information over the phone,” it said in a statement. “Bank account information is only accepted as part of a written application to the department.

“We want ensure that our customers and the public are made aware of this activity and that they keep their bank and other financial account information safe.”

Online scams

Garda headquarters in Dublin had already warned the public that fraudsters may seek to use the crisis to target them with bogus revenue-raising scams.

This included email-based scams in which people are asked to click on links in emails purporting to contain public health information. However, when people clicked on those links malware was released onto laptops or other devices to extract usernames and passwords for email accounts and bank accounts.

The Garda has also warned fraudsters are setting up bogus websites offering goods for sale, including protective masks and hand sanitisers. However, when people paid for goods using their bank cards no goods ever arrived and in reality were never available.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times