Sun, 16 Jun 2019

DUBLIN, Ireland - Business and employees are being warned by An Garda Siochana to beware of frauds that are taking foot in Ireland, and scamming people for millions of euros.

The Invoice Redirect Fraud and the so-called CEO Fraud are particularly widespread. Businesses and employees are being warned to treat any request to change bank account details with extreme caution.

Losses amounting to over €4.4 million have been reported to Gardaí just this year.

In April 2019, alone there have been numerous attempts in relation to this type of fraud with in excess of €2.27 million stolen.

An Garda Siochana in conjunction with Financial Institutions, Financial Intelligence Units Worldwide and Foreign Police forces, have recovered in excess of €1.28 million.

An Garda Síochána is working closely with the Financial Institutions who have intercepted many transactions of this nature however it can be difficult to recover funds once they have left the jurisdiction so prompt reporting is critical, Garda says.

In crimes of this nature, criminals send emails to businesses purporting to be one of their legitimate suppliers. These emails contain a request to change the bank account details that the business has for a legitimate supplier, to bank account details that ultimately benefit the criminals. These requests can also come by way of letter or phone call so caution, says Garda, should attach to any request of this nature.

The criminal intention is that when the legitimate supplier next sends an invoice to the company seeking payment for services rendered or goods supplied, the business acts on the new banking instructions and sends the payment to the criminal’s bank account where the funds are quickly transferred or withdrawn. In many instances the business does not know it is a victim of this crime until sometime later when the legitimate supplier sends a reminder invoice for payment.

Businesses are being warned they must ensure that they have robust policies and procedures in place to deal with requests of this nature including escalating the decision-making function to supervisory positions and making direct contact with a trusted known person in the supplier's organisation. In this context it is imperative that a suitable known contact person is identified before a business relationship commences with the supplier.

If a business relationship has already commenced and no such checks are in place and a request of this nature is received; independent contact should be made with the supplier to verify the contents of the email. Under no circumstances, Garda says, should contact details contained in the email or attachments be relied upon to verify the request whether these consist of a physical address, an email address or a phone number. In that context, all existing business relationships should be reviewed without delay and defensive policies and procedures put in place.

It is important, Garda says, to note that victims of Invoice Redirect Fraud range from very small businesses to large corporations and the consequences of falling for a scam of this nature can be catastrophic and can result in the closure of businesses and redundancies so all employees should receive training in relation to avoiding this type of scam.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan, of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said: "Stop and think before you change bank account details for anyone. Ask the question, is this really the person / company you owe money to. Pick up the phone and speak to the person concerned."

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