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Gardaí believe that Irish financial institutions could be at risk from an international crime gang

Garda detectives have arrested people working in banks for suspected fraud offences.

Image: Shutterstock/wk1003mike

GARDAÍ ARE MONITORING financial institutions to prevent infiltrations by international fraud gangs – and say working from home could be a key weakness in security.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan and Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan, said they are monitoring the situation and have already arrested and successfully prosecuted one criminal who was offending while working in a bank.

Cryan said that the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) said that there are suspicions about this from investigators. 

Fears are mounting worldwide and in Ireland that international crime groups are targeting this country in a major increase in global fraud. 

Cryan said investigators in the GNECB have “found people working in financial institutions rather than infiltrations”.  

“We don’t know if they were deliberately infiltrated in and got access and then got involved in crime or not. We had found one lad who got in to KBC and he was committing economic crime working there.

“Tomi Jinad was working in KBC. He was turning off the accounts and when it was turned off there was money taken out of the accounts.

“There is a bit of it going on. People have been arrested from two other banks,” Cryan said. 

Tomi Jinad (24) was working in customer services in KBC Bank in Dublin city centre in December 2018. He disabled a security feature on 26 customer accounts which resulted in €20,000 being stolen in fraudulent transactions, the Irish Times reported.

His crime involved deactivating a protocol which enabled customers to receive a text message to allow them to authorise online transactions with an authorisation code.

In July of last year Jinad received a suspended four year jail term and was ordered to pay €5,200 annually until the balance of the money stolen was repaid. 

Infiltrations

Lordan said that the potential for infiltrations in the Irish banking sector is not “wholesale”.

“There are bogeys across the banks like every other workplace. Whether they have been put in or not we are not 100% sure of that. They have a skill set and have used that skill set once they got in there,” Lordan said. 

Both Cryan and Lordan believe that the working from home environment could be a risk for financial institutions as it would enable people to commit crime without the close supervision of management. 

Garda 2 Det Supt Michael Cryan and Det Chief Supt Pat Lordan lead the GNECB.

The gardai have studied gangs who use the practice of placing operatives in financial institutions, particularly a well known West African crime group.

“It is a modus operandi for the Black Axe criminal organisation to infiltrate people into places around the world where they have access to data. We would suspect it to a degree.

“We’ve seen them have access to phone companies and major IT companies. We have arrested people. It is a case of friends of friends and from certain places as well,” Cryan added. 

Black Axe

The Black Axe organisation is based in Nigeria and is involved in high end, worldwide, financial crimes as well as other activities like drug dealing. 

The Crown Prosecution Service in the UK prosecuted members of the gang for activities in Britain. 

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In that 2019 case three siblings, with links to the gang’s leader, were prosecuted for a laundering operation using British bank accounts.

In April of this year, the BBC reported, Italian police arrested 30 gang members involved in drug and people trafficking, prostitution and internet fraud.

The Italian investigators alleged that Bitcoin was used by the gang to carry out their  international operations via the dark web.

Selling card details

Lordan said that the Irish financial crime ecosystem may have a less complicated risk and used the example of someone working in a small company handling credit card details in purchases for courses.   

“We have no idea who is working in these offices, it is the real world we live in. The person taking those details are on say €10 an hour.

“What is to stop them taking the details of cards and putting them on an A4 page and selling them for €500? There’s nothing to stop them and we’ve seen that.

“Working from home in big banks is another issue, they don’t even have to download the files, they just have to film it on their phones. They can’t do that in the work environment but no one is watching at home,” Lordan said. 

The Journal contacted the Central Bank for its view on the potential for organised crime infiltrating the banking system. 

“The Central Bank is unable to comment on any potential or ongoing Garda investigations,” a spokesperson said. 

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