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Fraud up by a quarter as pandemic profiteers prey on home workers

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Fraud offences have risen

Fraud offences have risen

Fraud offences have risen

Gardai are dealing with a significant upsurge in fraud offences, which have increased by 26pc as crime gangs target people online.

The number of drug-related crimes has also risen by 17pc compared to the previous year.

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show an increase in most crime categories last year - apart from burglary, robbery and kidnapping offences - while homicide offences dropped significantly from 80 in 2018 to 50.

This decrease was mainly due to a 66pc drop in the number of dangerous driving leading to death cases - from 33 to 11 - while murders decreased from 40 to 35.

While the Hutch/Kinahan feud was linked to up to 18 murders here and abroad, there has not been a killing linked to the dispute in two years.

However, disputes in Drogheda and Dublin between criminal gangs have led to a number of murders.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan welcomed the decrease in homicides and praised efforts from gardai in preventing gang violence.

"However, every murder is one too many and the increase in attempts and threats to murder starkly remind us of the ongoing challenge faced by An Garda Siochana in tackling serious criminality," he said.

The number of murder attempts almost doubled from 14 to 25, while sexual offences are continuing to reach record levels, with more than 3,300 reported to gardai last year.

The most significant crime increase was for offences related to fraud, which have risen by 26pc as crime gangs move to online platforms to scam Irish consumers.

Susceptible

Deirdre Carwood, head of forensic at Deloitte, said the increase came as no surprise to fraud investigators and that they are now also seeing a rapid increase in pandemic profiteering,

"We are more susceptible to this risk, now more than ever as we work from home and log on remotely to our workplace VPNs," she said.

"Businesses should keep reminding their employees that it is important to take care when clicking on links within emails or opening suspicious attachments on both your business and personal email accounts," she added.

Controlled drugs offences have also increased by 17pc, with almost 21,000 reported last year.

Of those, 30 were for drug trafficking offences, which doubled during the 12-month period.

Both local and national garda units have continued investigations into a number of different crime gangs both in Dublin and across the country in the past year.

They have also made a number of significant seizures.

In 2018, gardai investigated 2,686 offences involving weapons or explosives, which was a 10.2pc increase in that particular crime.

Recorded crime statistics have remained under scrutiny since the CSO expressed concern in 2018 about the quality of the information collated by gardai on the Pulse system.