Prompt action will help investigate the people behind the fraud and to have any chance of recovering the funds that have been lost, said Gerard Walsh of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.
Almost €80,000 has been taken from five card holders and at least 30 people have been approached by the fraudsters.
“Speed is of the essence,” said Det Supt Walsh.
The criminals are using phones to ensnare people into transferring funds from their accounts to ones controlled by the gang.
They ring people on their landlines with a concocted story that they are the security manager of a store and that someone is attempting to use their debit or credit card. When the receiver of the call hangs up and rings their financial institution or the gardaí they are simply reconnecting with the caller.
This is due to a facility called ‘clear down time’ on landlines — typically used in houses that have multiple landlines in different parts of the house.
It allows someone to answer a call in one location, put it down and pick it up in another location.
Speaking on the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, Det Supt Walsh asked people who had been contacted by the scammers, but who did not transfer money, to report it to gardaí. And he urged people who had fallen victim to the scammers but who had not yet reported it to go to their local station straight away.
“We might be able to identify this quickly, even though the money might be gone,” he said. “But if you wait five to six weeks for your Visa statement, the chances of it still being there are very, very slim.”