Retired man scammed out of €250k as garda report 120pc increase in investment fraud
A retired man in the Midlands has been scammed out of €250,000 after engaging with fraudulent ‘investors’ online while thinking he was dealing with a legitimate company, it has emerged.
Gardai warning about a 120pc increase in investment fraud scams during the Covid-19 pandemic have said the majority of cases involve sums of more than €40,000, often representing a person’s life savings or a pension lump sum.
Speaking at the launch of Fraud Awareness Week, Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said such investment crime is often underreported as victims will often be embarrassed or ashamed at having been caught out.
“One case involved a retired professional from the Midlands who lost his entire pension and savings of nearly quarter of a million euro. Our advice is simple, don’t respond to unsolicited approaches, be wary of wild claims of a good return, and never ever let anyone have remote access to your computer,” he said.
“In essence, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is,” he added.
An investment fraud scam is a fraud where criminals pose as investment managers promising quick and high rates of return, but who then steal your money straight from your bank account.
The fraudster uses various investment schemes such as in crypto currencies, rare metals, overseas property, and alternative energy schemes such as carbon credits and forestry.
Promises are made of fast, enormous returns, once in a lifetime opportunities and can be seen to be endorsed by reputable business people or celebrities but this is without their knowledge.
Detective Inspector Steven Meighan said that people are often targeted by clicking on pop-up ads or websites which are unknowingly endorsed by a celebrity whose profile is being used by the scammers to make their site appear legitimate.
“It will offer massive returns on your investment. It will have professional charts and graphs,” he said.
“Other ways people are targeted is through social media or plain old fashioned cold calling.”
“A so-called investment manager will get in touch with you in person, walk you through the process, show you how much money you can earn, and then with your permission they will take control of your computer using remote access software and you will see them setting up accounts with reputable companies in your name and most times you will even provide the answers to the security questions and your passport and ID documents.”
“The scammer then comes back a couple of days later and show you how much money you’ve made and ask you for more money and at any stage the scammer will walk away with your money because they have the password to your account,” he added.
Det Insp Meighan said gardai have had more than 80 fraudulent websites taken down in the last year, but that as you move beyond Ireland and the EU it is more difficult to get cooperation from foreign jurisdictions to have websites removed.
He advised anyone thinking of investing money to do their own research and be wary of wild claims of large returns.
“Always seek independent financial and legal advice before making any investments, and check the various registers on the Central Bank of Ireland’s website,” he said.
“Use regulated investment firms where possible, and be aware that virtual assets are not currently regulated in Ireland. Do not respond to unsolicited approaches or cold-calls, and don’t click on links for websites that you don’t know.”
“Never ever disclose your bank account passwords or codes to anyone, and never allow anyone remote access to your computer,” he added.