Bank employee – who later worked at Covid-19 call centre – suspected of passing callers’ details on to crime gang
2nd October 2021
A FORMER bank employee who later worked at a Covid-19 call centre is suspected of using his job to fraudulently obtain PPS numbers for the use of an international crime gang.
The 26-year-old suspect was arrested in the midlands yesterday morning as part of a targeted operation by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) and remains in custody today at Portlaoise Garda Station.
“This individual was previously an employee of one of the biggest banks in the country where he is suspected of being involved in criminal conduct,” a senior source explained.
“He then got a job working in a call centre where members of the public called in to register for Covid-19 tests at the height of the pandemic which is a cause of major concern considering his previous form.
“He is suspected of passing on details of customers he dealt with while he worked in the bank to the organised crime gang who are essentially controlled by Nigerian criminals.
“Primarily this involved him giving the organisation the caller’s Personal Public Service (PPS) number and other details which enabled the gang to be able to pose as that person,” the source added.
While officers are concerned that he may have used his job at the Covid call centre to facilitate the crime gang, gardai have no evidence at this stage that this has happened.
“Of course it is a big concern but at the moment this individual is being investigated for his activities while he was employed at the bank,” a senior source said.
Yesterday, gardai announced details of the arrest operation.
Gardaí from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) arrested one male on Thursday 30th September 2021, as part of Operation Triassic, a money laundering investigation into a West African Organised Crime Group (OCG),” a spokeswoman said.
“Detectives from GNECB arrested the man, aged 26, on suspicion of committing offences contrary to Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006. He is suspected of assisting the OCG in the movement of illicit funds.
“He is currently detained in Portlaoise Garda Station under the provisions of Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007,” she added.
Gardai said that Operation Triassic is a money laundering investigation into a West African Organised Crime Group (OCG) that is being conducted by investigators at the Money Laundering Investigation Unit (MLIU) at the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).
This operation is separate to a previous GNECB investigation, Operation Joggle, which is an ongoing investigation into a separate West African OCG that is suspected of being involved in trade-based money laundering.
This week’s arrest follows the arrest of a 44-year-old woman in Co Kildare in August in an operation involving armed gardai and the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau (GNCCB) who backed up the GNECB in early morning raids.
“A significant number of items of electronic and financial evidence were seized during the course of this search and these items are currently being analysed,” a garda spokeswoman said at the time.
Meanwhile this week it was revealed that there has been an increase of over 40pc in cases of reported fraud in the year to June, according to figures published by the Central Statistics Office.
The CSO said the rise primarily relates to fraudulent attempts to obtain personal or banking information online or by phone as well as fraudulent use of credit and debit card information.
The number of crime incidents recorded on An Garda Síochána’s Pulse database which were classified as fraud offences increased by more than 40% (up by 3,248 incidents to 11,253) in the year to Q2 2021 compared to the previous year.
“The increase has occurred mostly in Q1 and Q2 of 2021 and primarily relates to fraudulent attempts to obtain personal or banking information online or by phone as well as fraudulent use of credit and debit card information,” CSO statistician Sam Scriven said.