Credit card scam takes €200k from businesses

Sophisticated credit card scammers have hit at least 50 merchants and taken €200,000 in bogus credit card payments.

The Irish Payments Service Organisation warns that scammers are cold-calling retailers claiming to be engineers from card payment processing companies to dupe them into making dummy refunds.

“The scam involves a number of individuals phoning shops and purporting to be engineers from their merchant acquirer [card payment processor]. They name the correct merchant acquirer and claim to be managers,” IPSO said.

Each caller is described as sounding “very professional”. The individuals’ voices vary and have included Irish, English, Eastern European, Indian, and African accents. They are also familiar with the shops’ tills and terminals, IPSO said.

A florist in Kinsale, Co Cork, was at the receiving end of one of the scammer’s calls. Pat O’Connell of Daisychain Florists received a call from a man with an Indian accent who called himself “Cash”.

The caller claimed to be calling from a company called global payment systems. Ms O’Connell said he was very persuasive.

“He said that he needed to run a test on our payments systems and that if we didn’t run the test our system would be out of action until next Friday,” she said.

Ms O’Connell was suspicious of the call and rang her payment services company, who said it was a scam and she should report it immediately.

IPSO has been warning retailers the scheme is widespread, with at least 50 merchants about the country being targeted. The scam operates by convincing retailers to put through payments to what the scammers claim are dummy cards. The scammers provide what they claim are dummy card numbers, but in fact are credit cards from regions as diverse as Nigeria and Britain.

IPSO said it is aware of individual shops losing up to €14,000 to the scammers. The average refunds being targeted by the fraudsters are €2,000-€3,000 each.

The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation confirmed it is actively investigating the matter.

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