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Three arrested as gardai bust fraud gang in major organised crime probe

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Card machines, phones and cloned credit cards seized

Card machines, phones and cloned credit cards seized

Card machines, phones and cloned credit cards seized

Fraud Squad gardai have caught three suspected members of an international crime gang after an 18-month investigation in which they identified at least two dozen members of the Romanian mob flying into and out of Ireland.

The three male suspects aged 25, 24 and 31 were arrested on Thursday in Co Donegal, and last night they were still being questioned at Letterkenny and Milford Garda Stations.

Some have previous convictions for similar offences, including in Finland.

They are being held as part of a major probe by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau who were backed up by local officers and detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

"A large amount of fraud paraphernalia was seized, including suspected cloned credit cards, credit cards issued in false names, bank account details and false Romanian identity documents," a Garda spokeswoman said.

"Credit card machines, till rolls and a number of suspected stolen Irish and UK passports and driving licences along with two cars bought on finance obtained on bank accounts opened in false names were discovered at the location and seized.

Cars

"Much of the documentation seized relates to suspected frauds in Northern Ireland.

"Investigations, which include enquires with Europol and the PSNI, are ongoing."

The gang have registered companies in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK and use the internet to trick people into buying cars from them.

Duped customers then transfer large sums of cash to buy vehicles that never even existed.

The gang are also involved in hacking genuine websites selling goods and infiltrating sites' payments details so that customers inadvertently send their cash to the fraudsters.

"This is a major investigation in which gardai have received invaluable help from European police forces," a senior source told the Herald last night.

"It is very much an active investigation and not just in Ireland."

Photos of some of the seized items were also released as officers continued to question the suspects who are being held under anti-gang legislation.

The three arrested men are not considered to be senior members of the international crime network suspected of making millions from crime across Europe.

Funds

The gang are also believed to be involved in "invoice redirect" frauds.

This happens when a business falls prey to requests, purporting to emanate from trusted suppliers or service providers, 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.

Gardai have made a number of arrests in the past year of organised criminals suspected of being directly involved in invoice redirection frauds that has cost Irish companies millions of euro in recent years.