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Businesses Urged To Instigate Policy On Invoice Redirect Fraud

Det. Chief Supt. Patrick Lordan.

Gardaí continue to warn businesses regarding online scams, that has allowed fraudsters to attempt to embezzle more than €1.3m in “invoice redirect fraud”, over a mere two-month period.

On February 28th last, we posted news of the arrest of three men and two women, following a total of four searches; three in Co. Tipperary and one in Co. Dublin.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mr Patrick Lordan, Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) and a former Garda Superintendent here at Thurles Garda Station (2010 -2013), has highlighted the need for businesses to urgently instigate more “robust policies and procedures”, with regard to “Invoice Redirect Fraud”. This can be easily undertaken by making “direct contact” with a trusted individual within any organisation with which business is being conducted.

What is Invoice Redirect Fraud?

In crimes of this nature, criminals send emails to businesses purporting to be one of their legitimate suppliers. These emails contain an instruction to change the suppliers bank account details, that the business currently use. Payments then arrive to new bank accounts that ultimately benefit the criminals, and in the majority of instances, the business does not become aware it has been a victim of such crime, until the legitimate supplier sends a reminder invoice, seeking payment.

These requests from criminals can also come via written correspondence or by a phone call, so caution should attach to any such request of this nature, and business owners are urged to remind employees to treat any request to change supplier bank account details, with extreme caution.

Just one of the examples of such fraud being attempted was Meath Co. Council, who were deceived into handing over €4.3m to an online fraudster. Having acted quickly and made contact with Gardaí when this slip-up was realized, it became possible to recover all losses involved.

The five arrests we recently reported on, were made following a probe into a similar scam, which involved Dublin Zoo. Current NECB boss, Det. Chief Supt. Mr Pat Lordan has stated: “Invoice redirect fraud is a major problem around the world and we are also targeting the crime gangs who are sending money to Ireland.”

The scam is being targeted by the Money Laundering Investigation Unit (MLIU) of the Garda Economic Crime Bureau, who work very closely with financial institution in this regard.

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WARNING – Fraud – Business Invoice Redirection Alert

garda crestThe Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation has recently detected a pattern of criminal activity that has the potential to cause serious financial losses to Public / Private Businesses. Up to 14 such cases have been reported to date, with potential losses of over €5m and with €100k stolen to date.

A number of businesses based around Ireland have received fraudulent instructions in recent weeks via both Email and postal correspondence instructing them to record new account details for their various clients. There is no pattern in these fraudulent account details but they do involve most financial institutions in both Ireland and the UK.

As a result of various businesses having already received these fraudulent instructions, some businesses contacted have transferred funding to various bank accounts as instructed to do so, in payment of due debts. However due to the vigilance of the various financial institutions, most of the money has been prevented from being sent in the first instance or has been indeed recovered.

Conduct an immediate review of recent business requests for changes of account details.

The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation now request that all businesses conduct an immediate review of any instructions that they have received from customers which involved a request for any change of account requests / details. As a security precaution such requests should be confirmed by verbal contact with the relevant financial control person employed in each business that purportedly sent change of account instructions as to whether they should be regarded as genuine instructions or not.

Where any business suspects that such an attempt has been made or indeed where they have received any such request; they should immediately contact their local Garda station and their personal financial institution.

The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation are presently liaising closely with the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland on this matter.

NOTE: Please see attached crime prevention advice supplied here (pdf) on the “Invoice Redirection Fraud Alert Advice Sheet” provided by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.

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Fraud Investigation Arrest In Co. Tipperary.

Gardaí have arrested in total five men in counties Tipperary, Westmeath, Cork and Roscommon.

The arrests are part of further investigation into invoice redirection fraud involving some €6.3 million; of which €5 million was possibly lodged or moved through bank accounts here in the Irish republic.

Of the men detained, four are understood to be from Romania and one from Nigeria. Previously, a female associate of the men arrested was herself taken into custody in Co Tipperary, late last year, when she attempted to withdraw €31,000 from a bank account, which was suspected to contain the proceeds of invoice redirect fraud.

Yesterday morning, officers attached to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) made four arrests following a number of planned searches carried out in Co. Tipperary, Co. Cork, and Co. Roscommon.

The four arrested individuals, all understood to be aged between 23 and 35 years of age, were detained at garda stations in Tipperary town, and Middleton, Mallow, Fermoy Co. Cork, under Section 50, of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007.

Last evening, in a follow up operation, a fifth man, understood to be aged in his 20s, was also arrested in Co. Westmeath. Latter is currently being detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007 in Castlerea Garda Station, Co. Roscommon, where he can be held for questioning for up to seven days.

Four of yesterdays arrests were made under as part of Operation BOXPLOT, while the fifth man, also arrested yesterday, was detained under Operation SKEIN. All are being questioned in relation to the laundering of the proceeds of international invoice re-direct fraud.

To current date, 22 individuals have been arrested as part of Operation SKEIN, and Operation BOXPLOT; with further investigations ongoing.

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CAB Seize Cars Valued 2 Million Euros In Tipperary

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), headed by Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Gubbins, have seized 80 cars worth more than 2 million Euros from a car dealership here in Co. Tipperary. Same operation is part of an investigation into a UK-based Pakistan and Lithuanian organised crime gang.

This morning’s CAB seizures were supported by the Emergency Response Unit, the Stolen Motor Vehicle Investigation Unit, the Garda National Immigration Bureau, the Garda Technical Bureau and the Revenue Customs Dog Unit, which carried out six searches in homes and businesses in both Co. Clare and Co. Tipperary.

In total cars seized included Range Rover’s; Volvo’s; BMW’s; and Hyundai’s worth more than €2 million. The gang are believed to have set-up a company and bought a garage in Co Tipperary, selling cars they had purchased and imported from the UK.

Some €20,000 in cash was seized in six searches and over €200,000 frozen in bank accounts.

Police in the UK and our own Gardaí believe the crime gang were involved in invoice redirect fraud and were using the business as a front for money laundering.

In a similar operation in the UK, West Midlands Police also carried out a search and arrest operation as part of their investigation.

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Persons Arrested In Tipperary Under Sect. 4 Criminal Justice Act

It has been confirmed that five people (Three men and two women) have been arrested as part of a major Garda investigation into fraudulent activities and money laundering, which involved a financial scam that cost Dublin Zoo alone, close to half a million euros.

This morning a total of four searches; three in Tipperary and one in Dublin, were carried out as part of an ongoing investigation headed by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).

Invoice redirect fraud
In December of last year, Dublin Zoo fell victim to an invoice fraud scam that involved the half million euro theft. While the full facts of the case remains unclear publicly, it is understood that as part of the scam, some businesses were sent invoice emails purporting to be from suppliers, which providing false bank details.

It is understood that the GNECB, assisted by the Cyber Crime Unit and Garda personnel from Co. Tipperary and Blanchardstown, Dublin, assisted in carrying out the four searches. Those arrested in connection with this ongoing investigation into organised criminal activity, are understood to be of varying ages; somewhere between 20 and 60 years of age.

The suspects presently remain detained at Garda stations in Clonmel, Cahir and Tallaght; held under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
Gardaí now claim that they have frozen bank accounts, recovering a substantial part of the stolen funds.Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail