Gardaí warn of rise in sophisticated fraud as Christmas approaches

Alert urges consumers to be ‘extremely cautious’ in the weeks ahead

The scale and sophistication of frauds targeting vulnerable consumers looks set to rise as Christmas approaches. Photograph: iStock.

The scale and sophistication of frauds targeting vulnerable consumers looks set to rise as Christmas approaches. Photograph: iStock.

 

The scale and sophistication of frauds targeting vulnerable consumers looks set to rise as Christmas approaches and an alert has been issued over certain prolific scams.

The Garda and FraudSmart- a bank funded organisation - issued the alert and urged consumers to be “extremely cautious” in the weeks ahead.

Among the scams highlighted are text message, email or telephone calls which see victims receive messages which appear to be from their bank seeking personal details or security information.

The communication instructs people to visit a website or make a call to a specified number, after which personal information is sought. To prompt urgent action by victims fraudsters create fear that if the customer does not act fast their account will be compromised.

People have been warned that if they receive unsolicited text messages, emails or telephone calls purportedly from a bank they must first check the validity of the request and the security of their account.

They must not use links received in text messages or emails to make that contact with their the bank and never use telephone numbers supplied. Look up the number of the bank independently and contact them if there are any concerns.

Online loans

Warnings over websites unlawfully offering loans online have also been highlighted.

Known as Advance Fee Fraud, this scam sees sites offer loans online and within minutes of applying for a loan, applicants are told their request has been successful.

They will then be asked to pay a fee in advance . This is a scam, no loan will be issued and the customer loses the “fee” paid in advance.

Consumers have been told they can check the register of authorised firms at http://registers.centralbank.ie/ and if the website or company offering a loans is not listed, people should walk away.

Gardaí have also said people should be wary of online purchases or sales in the Christmas period, particularly if products are considerably under market value or being offered for sale via an unsolicited email, text or phone call.

Invoice Re-Direct Fraud is way to target a company by creating a fake invoice in the name of a supplier the target company is doing business. The invoice is sent to the target company asking for the payment for the product or service to be paid into an account controlled by the fraudster.

If any supplier asks for payment to be made to a new account, a red flag should be raised.

Detective Chief Superintendent Patrick Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) said Gardaí were concerned at the growing number of new scams and the particular targeting of consumers as Christmas approaches.

“Always be wary of any unexpected calls or texts which appear to be your bank especially those asking for personal details or payments,” said Niamh Davenport of FraudSMART.

“Your bank will never ask for your personal information so never give your financial or personal information in order to release money, refund fees, or access to your computer.

“Fraudsters are very convincing but don’t be afraid to take the time to make the relevant checks. The scammer will try to rush you, but this is all designed to panic you into doing something you wouldn’t otherwise do.”

Meanwhile, Ulster Bank has released the findings of its 2019 Black Friday Fraud Survey, which shows that people’s confidence in their ability to stay safe from online scams and frauds is frequently not matched by their online shopping behaviour.

While 76 per cent of respondents said they thought they had taken all the necessary precautions to shop safely online this season, nearly a quarter admitted they would sometimes take a chance on clicking a link if it promised a great deal while almost one in ten people who shop online claim to have shared their online banking Pin or password with someone, either verbally or online.