Scammers hack into lawyer’s email to rob client of €180,000 in ‘invoice redirect’ con
The woman wasn’t aware she was dealing with the fraudster when the transaction took place. Photo: Depositphoto
January 12 2021 02:30 AM
A Dublin-based woman was scammed out of almost €180,000 as part of an invoice redirect fraud when she attempted to buy a house.
However speedy investigations by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) meant they managed to recover all the money the organised crime gang had stolen in the scam.
“This happened just before the Christmas period when the woman was buying a property and she received an email from her solicitor which was actually from a gang who had compromised her solicitor’s email system,” a senior source explained.
“The woman did not realise that she was dealing directly with the fraudster when the transaction took place.
“However gardaí were quickly alerted to the situation and all the money was retrieved,” the source added.
In another recent case, fraud squad detectives worked with a European police force to retrieve €150,000 that had been scammed from a man who was attempting to make an international purchase.
Invoice redirection fraud happens when a person or a business fall prey to requests, purporting to emanate 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.
In order to carry out a fraud successfully the gang often uses information about companies that they have obtained through hacking or from the firms’ websites or social media accounts.
Sources said there has been an increase in this type of crime across Europe since the coronavirus pandemic started.
Gardaí have warned the public of the continuing existence of invoice-redirect fraud and to treat any request to change bank account details with extreme caution as those making the request may not be who they claim to be.
- Covid jab scams emerging as significant fraud threat, bank warns
- Fraudsters using online advertising to ‘industrialise’ scams, committee hears
There have been no arrests made yet as part of last month’s major fraud attempts but officers are understood to be following a definite line of enquiry. Last August, a Dublin-based business lost over €2.1m after being scammed into transferring money to a fraudster’s account.
However, after the matter was reported quickly, gardaí contacted police in Hong Kong. The money was secured and returned.
However in many cases the money is never recovered.
Gardaí say great care and attention should be given each time a person is asked to change bank account details.
They say it is imperative that a phone call is made to a representative of the company confirming that the bank account has in fact changed before any funds are transferred.
One of the biggest investigations by the fraud squad in recent months is codenamed Operation Skein.
Detectives working on the operation are looking into a €6m invoice redirection fraud which led to a number of arrests of foreign nationals in Ireland last year under anti-gangland legislation.
In that case the money was stolen from companies based in Spain, Belgium and the US.
The organised crime gang enlisted a number of people based in Ireland to store some of the stolen money in their accounts.