‘Spending spree’ bank employee and female associate arrested after four customers duped in card scam
14th December 2021
A 21-year-old man who works in one of Ireland’s biggest banks has been arrested by fraud squad detectives who are investigating a scam in which four victims lost up to €10,000 in total when they were duped into handing their bank cards over to a fraud gang.
“He is suspected of going on a spending spree with the money particularly by buying electronic products for himself,” a senior source said.
“This individual is suspected of calling to the homes of all four victims, producing a fake personal ID and fake bank documents before leaving with their debit cards.”
The suspect was arrested at his home in Tallaght this morning by officers from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (Gnecb) who have been investigating the scam in which the bank customers were targeted in a “sophisticated fraud.”
A close female associate of the bank employee was also arrested in the same property as part of the detailed investigation.
This 22-year-old woman is being held at Rathfarnham Garda Station while he is being questioned at Clondalkin Garda Station and both can be held for 24 hours.
Gnecb officers are currently liaising with the bank he works for to “determine whether data at the bank was compromised by his role in the institution and to establish exactly what his role was in the bank,” according to a senior source.
Apart from his alleged involvement in these crimes, the arrested man is also being questioned about separate money laundering offences after detectives discovered that €7,000 which had been scammed from a customer in a different bank was being stored the suspect’s personal bank account.
“One of the crimes that he is being questioned about occurred last summer when the victim got a call which purported to be from her bank,” a senior source explained.
“The caller outlined in very believable terms that there was a problem with her account and that a bank employee would call to her home to collect her debit card so the issue could be resolved.
“The bank employee who is currently in custody is then suspected of arriving at her home with what appeared to be legitimate documentation from the bank which was actually bogus and she signed over her debit card.
“This card was then used to make four fraudulent transactions on her account.
“Investigations have established that the person who made the original phone call to the victim and the person who called to their property to take the debit card are different people.”
Sources say that the crimes against the other victims followed “similar patterns”.
Detectives believe that all four victims had first been identified by the gang by their use of a cyber enabled fraud called ‘vishing.’
Vishing relies on convincing victims that they are doing the right thing by responding to the caller and in these cases, the victims believed they were legitimately dealing with their bank.
“Gnecb are investigating reports that a male, purporting to be a bank employee, was calling to the homes of account holders who had received ‘vishing’ calls. This man was collecting their bank cards from them,” a garda spokeswoman said in a statement.
“As the fraudsters already had the victim’s PINs, he was then able to use their cards to make withdrawals and purchases. A man was identified and he was arrested this morning.”
Officers also believe that the gang had used the smishing technique to dupe some of the victims – this is a scam where fraudsters use mobile phone text messages to trick people into opening a malicious attachment or link.
The text will instruct the victim to click on a link to unblock or unfreeze their account and then ask them to login and enter a code received by text which allows the fraudster to access the account.
Banks say they will never text you seeking personal information like account numbers, passwords, pin codes, or your mother’s maiden’s name.
Gnecb officers arrested the 22-year-old woman in relation to this aspect of the investigation which gardai described in a statement as a “search operation.”
“This search operation came into effect as a result of an investigation into ‘smishing’ attacks on bank account holders,” the garda spokeswoman said.
“Account holders received a text, believing it was from their bank with a link attached which brought them to a cloned website.
“They then input their PINs which allows the fraudsters to take control of their bank account and transfer money to a money mule account.
“In one such case, a victim lost €7,500 and it was laundered through the accounts of a 22 year old female.
“This female was arrested this morning and is currently detained at Rathfarnham Garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984,” she added.