Unprecedented surge in frauds in Republic as text, call scams increase

Criminals target unsuspecting victims’ bank account details to steal money

The numbrer of frauds being detected has surged by 40 per cent over the past year, a time when most other crime types fell during the Covid-19 pandemic, Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show.

The number of assaults, burglaries and public order crimes fell in the second quarter of the year, a period when pandemic restrictions began to ease after strict measures were introduced following a surge in infections in the new year.

A total of 3,778 offences relating to breaches of Covid-19 regulations were recorded between April and June, the CSO said, down from 10,438 such offences in the first quarter, when a system of on-the-spot fines was being enforced.

Regarding the increased number of fraud offences detected, CSO crime statistician Sam Scriven said the increase "occurred mostly in quarter one and and quarter two of 2021 and primarily relates to fraudulent attempts to obtain personal or banking information online or by phone as well as fraudulent use of credit and debit card information".


In response to the figures, Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys said October is European Cyber Security Month and that her department and the Garda would be announcing “a number of initiatives in the coming weeks to support this”.

Mr Scriven said the CSO was awaiting more information about the premature cancellation of 999 calls by Garda personnel before the impact of that controversy on wider crime data could be determined.

Based on the information available, it was not possible to say how many crimes reported to the Garda had not been properly recorded because emergency calls were cancelled, meaning this was missing from the data.

Theft offences were down 22 per cent in the 12 months to the end of June, robberies were down by 21 per cent and burglaries by 37 per cent. The number of assaults fell by 9 per cent while public order crimes were down by 10 per cent and criminal damage crimes showed a 6 per cent fall.

The number of sexual offences recorded increased by 7.5 per cent to 3,241 crimes.

Ms Humphreys said: "I note with concern the increase in reported sexual offences and would continue to encourage anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to come forward and report the incident to An Garda Síochána. "

Other notable trends in the 12-month period to the end of June, included homicides being down by 26 per cent (to 56 cases); kidnapping and related offences were down 23 per cent (with 115 such crimes recorded); illicit drug crime was up by 1 per cent to 22,090 offences; weapons and explosives offences, which include gun and knife crimes, were down 4 per cent to 2,803.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times