Gardaí and Interpol liaise to track down UK-based fraudsters suspected of €100k University of Limerick theft
25th July 2022
Gardaí are working with Interpol to track down UK-based fraudsters suspected of stealing more than €100,000 from the University of Limerick (UL) last year.
The university was the victim of an invoice redirect fraud involving unknown fraudsters. A total of €101,949 was stolen during the incident.
Invoice redirect fraud typically involves criminals sending invoices claiming to represent a known supplier or trading partner. This tricks organisations into lodging money into accounts controlled by the criminals.
Details of the crime emerged after emails between UL and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) were released under Freedom of Information laws. UL wrote to the HEA last July to say the fraud had been reported to gardaí. In follow-up correspondence UL told the authority it was also working with Bank of Ireland as the investigation continued. It said the bank had refunded UL for the full amount taken in the fraud.
A garda spokesman said the stolen money was tracked to a bank account outside the State.
“Gardaí have liaised with Interpol on this matter. A request was made to transfer the investigation to the jurisdiction in which the crime is understood to have occurred,” he added.
It is suspected the culprits are based in the UK.
Bank of Ireland said it could not comment on individual cases but it advises businesses “to remain on increased alert against fraudsters”, to verify emails are genuine and “to be sceptical of urgent requests that do not follow typical company procedures”.
They said customers should notify the bank immediately about suspicious emails or if they feel they have been the victim of fraud.
The university said measures have been taken aimed at preventing a similar occurrence. Eight recommendations were since made at UL by its anti-fraud group. Five of these have been fully implemented and changes to meet the other three are ongoing.
UL said these require “systems development work, IT security awareness for new staff on joining and a reduction in the volume of suppliers” to be implemented through an annual reduction in the number of suppliers.
Meanwhile, finance staff have completed security awareness training, as is mandatory for all university staff, and attended a workshop to deal with lessons learnt after the incident.