THE GARDA BUREAU of Fraud Investigation has issued a fresh warning about so-called phishing emails saying it receives reports daily about the theft of money from customers’ personal bank accounts.
Phishing is the practice of potential criminals masquerading as trustworthy companies and organisations in emails to people in an attempt to extract sensitive personal data from them such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, details which can then be used to commit fraud.
Detectives say that criminal organisations are sending emails purporting to be from a bank requesting customers to login with all their details including passwords, security codes and mobile numbers.
As many as 300 people have lost money through falling for phishing scams this year, gardaí say, with the amounts stolen from their accounts ranging from between €100 and €40,000.
“People are still responding to the emails even though we send out advice, the advice is not to respond because money is hard got these days,” Detective Sergeant Matt Sheridan, from the Garda Fraud Bureau, told TheJournal.ie.
The emails will sometimes link to a web page that will have the look and feel of the bank’s website but it will be one created by criminals for the purpose of using your bank details to commit fraud.
Any fraud will generally involve transferring the money from the unsuspecting customer’s account to what’s known as a ‘mule account’ where the money is quickly drawn down from ATMs. This can make it difficult to trace.
Sheridan said that “prevention is the cure” when it comes to these types of scams.
“People are still responding to the emails so please listen to advice that’s been given,” he said. “We’ve seen in the past all sorts of scams where we we put the media attention to it and it makes a huge difference.”
Banks do not and will not send emails asking you for online security codes and bank account information, gardaí say. If you receive one of these emails, gardaí say that you should not open it and delete it.
Sheridan added: “Some people will open the email and fill it in and tell them to go away but in doing so they could be downloading malware that would have same effect as if they answered questions looking for emails.
“Don’t open then, delete them, it’s short and to the point because that will protect you.”
Any suspicious activity on your bank account should be immediately reported to your bank and if you think you have been the victim of fraud report it to your local garda station.