Gardaí arrest five men over multi-million fraud allegations

Searchs as part of operation investigating activities of international fraud gangs

Gardai investigating the activities of an international fraud gang operating in the Republic have made five arrests and carried out searches in three counties after intelligence-led searches under Operation Boxplot.

Last year gardaí began investigating a group of men in the north Cork area on suspicion they were part of a coalition of criminals targeting businesses in Ireland and abroad in invoice redirect scams.

Detectives from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau came into information about the suspects that linked them a wider group of criminals based in Ireland who were already under investigation under Operation Skein for the same alleged crimes.

On Thursday morning teams of gardai moved in on addresses in Cork, Tipperary and Roscommon and arrested five men. Of the men detained, four are from Romania and one is from Nigeria.


Gardai suspect the Romanian men were working for Nigerians based across the Republic, though the precise relationship between the men was still under investigation.

The suspects arrested on Thursday morning range in ages from 22 to 35 years and they were being detained at Middleton, Fermoy and Tipperary Garda stations under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act which allows for their detention for up to seven days without charge.

"Three of the arrests this morning were made under Operation Boxplot, which targets a criminal organisation based in the North Cork area, that is believed to be laundering the proceeds of international invoice re-direct fraud through bank accounts in Ireland," Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, said.

The arrests bring to 17 the number of people detained under the long-running Operation Skein and to four the number of suspects arrested under Operation Boxplot.

The international group under investigation under Operation Skein has a large operation in the Republic and gardaí believe they can link it to frauds totaling €6.3 million, of which €5 million has been lodged or moved through bank accounts in Ireland.

Gardai believe a group of men, who are mainly Nigerian and living in Ireland, not only manage the international crime gang’s Irish cell but are also the beneficiaries of the crimes and have been spending the proceeds of those frauds in Ireland.

Invoice-redirect fraud involves crime gangs tricking companies into lodging money into accounts controlled by the criminals. They send invoices that are purporting to come from one of the targeted companies’ trading partners and effectively dupe their victims into paying money into accounts they control.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times