herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

€2.8m frozen in bank as gardai swoop on invoice fraud suspect

Gardai have warned people to be wary of fraud
Gardai have warned people to be wary of fraud

A man has been arrested as part of massive garda investigation into a scam involving almost €3m.

A sum of €2.8m is frozen in a bank account and gardai were quizzing the suspect, a 28-year-old Pakistani national, in Ballymun Garda Station last night.

Senior sources have revealed that detectives investigating a money-laundering and invoice-redirection fraud pounced on the suspect.

Invoice redirection fraud happens when a business falls prey to requests purporting to come from trusted suppliers or service providers, into believing that a beneficiary's bank account details have been changed.

As a result, funds that are due to be paid out are transferred to a fraudulent account.

"Typically what happens in an invoice-redirection fraud is that the fraudster finds out what company is supplying the targeted company with a particular product or service," a senior source said.

Sophisticated

"The fraudster will send a highly sophisticated e-mail which looks completely legitimate stating that the supply company is changing their bank account details and advising the targeted company to update the fraudulent details on to their system.

"When the targeted company changes these details, payment then goes into the fraudster's bank account," the source said.

While this week's bust involved an Italian company that was targeted by an Irish-based criminal, sources say that dozens of Irish companies have been the victim of this type of fraud over the past year.

"It is becoming much more prevalent in Ireland and the fraud squad, as well as gardai at a local level, are dealing with dozens of these cases across the country," the source said.

Gardai say that in many cases the organisers of the invoice direction frauds use "money mules" to transfer the stolen money out of this jurisdiction.

The organisers of the fraud employ a mule to transfer the money is because it hides the criminal's true identity and location from the victim of the crime and the authorities.

Gardai have previously appealed to the public to be aware of redirection invoice fraud.

In May, it emerged that officers stopped the fraudulent transfer of more than €2m to a UK bank account.

Gardai have produced an advice sheet on invoice redirection and how to stay protected from such scams. It is available on www.garda.ie.

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