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Warning from gardaí after Dublin business conned out of €1.2m in invoice redirect fraud

Police in Hong Kong assisted gardaí and managed to secure the money so it can be returned.
Aug 13th 2020, 12:56 PM 47,722 21

GARDAÍ HAVE ISSUED a fresh warning about invoice redirect fraud after a Dublin business lost €1.2 million this week.

On Tuesday Bank of Ireland reported to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) that a business customer had been the victim of fraud.

The Dublin-based business was making payment to a UK business when they received an email purporting to be from this business asking them to send the payment to a new bank account number.

Gardaí said the Irish business did their due diligence and contacted the number supplied in the email and the person who answered the phone confirmed that all was correct.

The money was then sent to the new bank account which transpired to be in Hong Kong. It is now known that the phone number contained in the email was also incorrect and the business was actually talking to the fraudster.

GNECB initiated enquiries with the injured party in Dublin and with the bank in Hong Kong before seeking the assistance of the authorities in Hong Kong.

Following investigations conducted by the police in Hong Kong on behalf of gardaí, the stolen money was secured in an account there and the return of the money is being arranged.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan said in many instances of invoice redirect fraud the victim does now know until sometime later when the legitimate supplier sends a reminder for payment.

“It is important to note that victims of invoice redirect fraud range from very small businesses to large corporations and the consequences of falling for a scam of this nature can be catastrophic and can result in the closure of businesses and redundancies so all employees should receive training in relation to avoiding this type of scam,” he said.

He said early reporting is essential if there is to be any hope of retrieving the stolen money.

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“In this case gardaí with the assistance of Bank of Ireland and the police in Hong Kong were able to secure this money and ensure it did not fall into the hands of an international criminal organisation.”

Gardaí are advising the public to be wary of this type of fraud and have issued the following advice:

  • Ensure that great care and attention is given each time they are asked to change bank account details.
  • A phone call should be made to a representative of the company confirming that the bank account is changed and care needs to be taken to ensure that they are talking to a representation of the company and not the fraudster. Under no circumstances should contact details contained in the email or attachments be relied upon to verify the request whether these consist of a physical address, an email address or a phone number.
  • Businesses must ensure that they have robust policies and procedures in place to deal with requests of this nature including escalating the decision making function to supervisory positions and making direct contact with a trusted known person in the suppliers organisation.
  • All existing business relationships should be reviewed without delay and defensive policies and procedures put in place.
  • When working from home be mindful when carrying out roles you would not usually do. Confer with co-workers when you are uncertain about performing a task you are unfamiliar with or is non-standard to your regular duties.
  • It is also imperative that where staff are using private computers / laptop for work purposes from their homes that the antivirus software is kept up to date.

In June another Irish company was conned out of €65,000 while trying to buy a machine to be used in the manufacturing of PPE for the HSE.

The company was notified of the transaction by their financial institution and the misdirected payment was returned to the Irish company’s bank account.

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Michelle Hennessy


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