Gardai Warn Of Online Romance Scams As Three Arrested In Probe | #onlinescams | #scams | #internetscams


Anyone looking for love online is being urged to watch out for scammers after Gardai arrested three men as part of an investigation into online romance and investment fraud.

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) received more than 75 reports of ‘romance fraud’ last year, with Irish victims being conned out of more than €1million.

The men, who were arrested yesterday after searches in west Dublin and Navan on Sunday, were the first people to be detained in relation to this type of crime in Ireland. They are currently detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007, at Garda stations in west Dublin and can be held for up to seven days.

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) received more than 75 reports of ‘romance fraud’ last year. Pic: Shutterstock

A number of devices were also seized for examination during Sunday’s special operation.

It’s understood one of the victims in the case was persuaded to transfer large sums of cash to accounts in Ireland, Turkey, Dubai and Vietnam over a nine-month period after meeting fraudsters online via a dating site.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan said: ‘This is a novel investigation as the senders of such emails have never been arrested in Ireland before.

The men, who were arrested yesterday after searches in west Dublin and Navan on Sunday, were the first people to be detained in relation to this type of crime in Ireland. Pic: Shutterstock

‘The belief would always have been that criminal groups engaged in this activity are operating from outside this jurisdiction.

‘This investigation shows that this is not always the case. It is anticipated that numerous injured parties from all over the world will now be identified.

‘We would encourage other victims of this type of fraud to report incidents to local Gardai.’

Earlier this year, Gardai said there was no discrimination in terms of the gender of those who were targeted by the scams.

Online Romance Scams
Irish victims have been conned out of more than €1million. Pic: Shutterstock

In one case, an Irish victim developed a relationship with a man on a dating website. When he gained her trust, she sent him €62,000 over a period of time.

In another case, a victim linked up with a female in an online chat room and later sent her €50,000.

The fraudsters set out to befriend their victims through social media or dating apps. They then develop stories, while using fake pictures and identities to con vulnerable people out of money.

Earlier this year, gardai said there was no discrimination in terms of the gender of those who were targeted by the scams. Pic: Getty Images

Once money is exchanged they will continue to take cash until the victim has no more and they will move on to the next person.

Gardai have said that the warning signs include the fraudster asking the victim to communicate by instant messaging, text or phone calls rather than messaging through the dating website.

When they ask for money, they usually start off with small sums to pay for travel to meet the victim, for example, or moving expenses, medical expenses for a sick child or relative, to invest in a guaranteed business opportunity or to even pay a tax bill or some other spurious reason.

Online Romance Scams
Gardai have arrested three men as part of an investigation into online romance and investment fraud. Pic: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In classic catfish style, the fraudster will never meet in person, often making excuses and they will also avoid personal questions, authorities said.

In most cases they will also ask for money to be transferred to bank accounts abroad or via money transfer agencies to locations outside of Ireland.

Gardai have said that the warning signs include the fraudster asking the victim to communicate by instant messaging, text or phone calls rather than messaging through the dating website. Pic: Getty Images

Gardai said that phone calls from Irish numbers or lodgements to Irish bank accounts should not be considered as evidence that the person is genuine.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan of the GNECB advises the public as follows:

  • Stop and ask yourself ‘Is this person real?’, if you are asked for money by a person with whom you are in an online relationship;
  • Never share personal or banking details with unknown persons while online;
  • Never receive money from, or send money to, persons unknown;
  • Think twice before using a webcam (intimate images can be used for blackmail);
  • Trust your instincts – if it sounds like it is too good to be true, it is probably not true;
  • If in doubt, talk to a family member or a friend;
  • If you have been the victim of this type of crime, please report it in full confidence to your local Garda station.





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