By David Raleigh
A Co Limerick woman aged in her 70s was duped out of €1,000 after being contacted by a person claiming to work at her bank, gardaí have revealed.
Gardaí have issued a warning about the scam which involves victims being asked to wire money to a third party to protect their funds - only to discover the funds have been lost.
“Last Thursday, the second of November at 10am a lady in her 70s, living alone in Patrickswell, received a phone call allegedly from her bank,” explained Sergeant Ber Lettch, crime prevention officer at Henry Street garda station, Limerick.
“She was told that there was suspicious activity on her bank account and that €1,500 had been withdrawn.
“She was then told that the bank could only reimburse her with amounts of €2,500 so she should go to her post office and transfer €1,000 to a specific Western Union account and then she would receive the total amount of €2,500 back.
“Unfortunately, this lady did as she was told and she later realised that this was a hoax. She is at the loss of €1,000,” Sgt Leetch said.
“Once Gardaí were informed, an attempt was made to prevent the cash from being transferred, but it had already been drawn out in the Philippines."
Sgt Leetch explained that “there are a number of ways to detect a scam”.
“One (way) is if a phone call comes ‘out of the blue’, by that, I mean, if you didn’t start the contact then you should be very suspicious,” she added.
“The lady was made to feel that she had to be very quick in her response or that she would lose her €1,5000 — this is very typical of the scammers; they want you to react immediately and not to think too deeply about it or to give you a chance to tell anybody about it.”
Asking people to be wary of similar such contact, Sgt Leetch said: “It is no harm to hang up if you are contacted by a person claiming to be from a bank or credit union, and (to) ring somebody you trust and get their advice. Ring your local garda as the Gardaí always need to know."
Former detective Sean Lynch, who is chairman of the Joint Policing Committee on Limerick’s local authority, advised people to be suspicious of such approaches.
“Never engage with these type of people. No reputable institution would contact people in that way,” he added.
Gardaí are also investigating another scam in which a man claiming to be a garda made inquiries about an elderly woman’s finances when he called to her home on the outskirts of Limerick city.
“Last Monday evening at approximately 7.30pm, a lady in her 90s, living alone on the Ennis Road opened her door to a well-dressed man in his 30s. He identified himself as a Garda Detective and told her that he was making enquiries about burglaries in the area,” Sgt Leetch said.
“He asked could he come in and look around her house, (and) she allowed him in. He asked her if she kept money in the house and when she replied, no, he left.
“Thankfully she was not harmed and no damage was done. It’s also very important that she reported this to gardaí so we can caution others.”