Gardaí pursuing ‘definite lines of inquiry’ after a spate of phishing and smishing fraud | #phishing | #scams

Gardaí say they are working on a number of lines of inquiry in relation to frauds connected to unsolicited texts and emails after a spate of such incidents last year.

Detective Inspector Mel Smyth of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said officers currently are pursuing a number of “definite lines of inquiry” regarding so-called smishing and phishing. He added that gardaí have “taken steps to disrupt” the activities of suspects in recent months on foot of investigations into incidents across Ireland.

Smishing involves fraudsters sending texts purporting to be from reputable companies in a bid to persuade the recipient to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Phishing involves the sending of emails with the same goal.

Detective Inspector Smyth is urging people not to engage with any unsolicited texts, emails or calls claiming to be from agencies including financial institutions. Anyone who receives any calls of concern should wait a few minutes and then make contact with their bank to notify them about the call.

He said: “The fraudster will put the pressure on to act quickly. They will tell you that you need to do this now or your money will be lost.

“Once they have you on the hook, they will not want to let you off.” 

He added: “The goal is to get your payment card or get access to your bank accounts.” 

He said that fraudsters who manage to take control of someone’s bank account will typically empty the account.

Increase in fraud

According to fraud figures released from the Central Statistics Office in September, there was a 40% increase in fraud offences in the year to June 2021 when compared to the previous year. The most common fraud related to attempts to obtain personal or banking information online or by phone as well as fraudulent use of credit and debit card information.

Throughout last year, gardaí highlighted scams where people are pretending to be from An Garda Síochána, Social Welfare, the Attorney General’s Office, banks, delivery companies and other businesses.

Gardai in west Cork were notified in September of an incident in which €5,000 was taken out of a person’s bank account after responding to a text message. The person ended up handing over PIN details for their bank account, enabling the fraudsters to siphon €5,000 from the account.

In one case in Donegal earlier last year, a person lost €750 after being contacted via social media by an unknown person informing them they have won a prize of €15,000 but needed an Amazon card in order to claim their winnings.

Gardai warn:

  •  Never click on a link of an unsolicited text, email or respond to cold callers seeking personal information.
  •  Never give away personal data like PIN number, card numbers, passwords, one time codes, PPS numbers 
  •  If you are expecting a delivery and receive such a text be very careful.
  •  Banks will never text you seeking personal information like account numbers, passwords, pin codes, mother’s maiden’s name 
  •  If you have been a victim its vital to change your passwords/pin codes 
  •  If you have responded to such a text contact your bank immediately 
  •  It is also important to report the matter to Gardaí.

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