Gardaí warn of upsurge in scams in run-up to Christmas

Gardaí warn of upsurge in scams in run-up to Christmas

People are being warned of an upsurge in scams in the run-up to Christmas. The types of fraud people are being urged to look out for include online offers of loans and online sales of products well below the normal asking price.

People are also being alerted to communications purporting to be from a bank or financial institution looking for personal information. And businesses are told to be vigilant regarding emails from apparent suppliers looking to change bank account details to be used to pay monies owed.

The warnings are being made by An Garda Síochána and FraudSMART, an initiative of the Banking & Payments Federation of Ireland. Detective Chief Superintendent Patrick Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said they were concerned at the growing number of new scams that were arising and the particular targeting of people in the run-up to Christmas.

BPFI chief executive Brian Hayes said: “Fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated and innovative in their efforts to lure consumers to part with personal information.”

One fraud is the online loan scam, referring to websites that unlawfully offer loans online to people.

“As we enter the Christmas period many people will be under financial pressure,” said a statement from Garda HQ.

These unlawful websites will be looking to take advantage of financially vulnerable people.

It said that once people apply for a loan, they are immediately contacted to pay a fee in advance of the loan being issued.

“No loan will be issued and the customer loses the fee they have paid in advance,” the statement said.

People are advised to check the register of authorised firms on the Central Bank of Ireland website registers.centralbank.ie.

Another online fraud relates to the sale of products considerably below the market price – which offers coming via an unsolicited text, phone call or email.

"In many cases, there will be photographs of the product which have been taken from other legitimate websites, the product will be offered for sale and payment will be sought in advance and the product will not be delivered,” said the statement.

For people genuinely selling products online, they are advised to watch out for emails or texts purporting to be from a bank or payment service such as Paypal confirming that the payment has been made.

These communications can be fake and are designed to prompt the seller to dispatch the product before any payment hits their account.

In a scam also relating to purported financial institutions, people are being warned in relation to texts or emails or calls appearing to be from their bank asking them for personal and security information, designed to get access to their accounts.

In a related scam, known as Invoice RE-Direct Fraud, criminals either send a fake invoice or use a genuine invoice to request a business pay for money owed into a new bank account, controlled by the fraudsters.

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