Gardaí are warning the public of an online scam relating to websites offering unsecured loans.
Gardaí at the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau say a number of websites offering unsecured loans are targeting vulnerable people and people who have had difficulty obtaining loans.
They say the fraud is known as Advance Fee Fraud.
Gardaí say the fraud begins when a victim applies for a loan through a website that offers loans which it is claimed will be processed quickly.
They say some websites claim to be regulated by the Central Bank, which is not the case.
The victim will then receive communication informing them that the loan application has been approved and details of the amount of the loan and the monthly repayment will be provided.
Gardaí say the victim is then asked "to send an amount of money to the lender in advance of the loan amount being issued".
They say the reasons for the advance fee include:
Gardaí say no loan money is ever received and the advance fee is lost.
Gardaí have highlighted the warning signs that people can look out for to prevent the scam.
They say the warning signs include:
Gardaí stated that people should never apply for a loan from an entity that is not authorised by the Central Bank and that people should always check beforehand.
The register of authorised firms by the Central Bank can be accessed here.
The gardaí have also warned that in some instances a firm 'clones' details of an authorised entity by taking the details of an authorised entity and claiming to either be that entity or an associated entity.
They say information on firms using this method can be found on the Central Bank’s website.
Gardaí did warn that there may be scams out there that have not yet come to the attention of the Central Bank.