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smishing

Nine arrested as part of investigation into money laundering and smishing

Gardaí have seized €1.12 million in cryptocurrency as part of the investigation.

NINE MEN HAVE been arrested and €1.12 million in cryptocurrency has been seized as part of an investigation involving money laundering and smishing nationally and internationally.

Gardaí attached to the Waterford Division Crime Hub have been investigating organised transnational criminal activity involving the bulk transmission of smishing texts, theft, deception and money laundering both at home and abroad.

Smishing is a type of scam which sees a fraudster use a text message to trick targeted recipients into clicking a link. They often claim to be from banks, post offices or delivery companies.

The investigation is being coordinated by the Waterford Crime Office with the assistance of GNECB (Virtual Assets Investigation Unit and FIU Ireland), GNCCB, Europol, Garda Passenger Information Unit (GPIU) and other garda divisions.

As part of the investigation, gardaí seized €1.12 million in cryptocurrency, a VW Golf and a Mercedes, which are believed to be the proceeds of the organised criminality.

Some €30,000 of other monies has been frozen, while gardaí have also identified a property in Dubai as part of the investigation. 

It marks the first major seizure of cryptocurrency in the area of Organised Cyber Enabled frauds by An Garda Síochána.

Two of the nine arrested men are currently before the courts.

They are charged with various alleged offences contrary to the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010, Part 7 of Criminal Justice Act 2006 and the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001. 

“The investigation to date has established that the criminal activity is operating in a number of countries in Europe, the UK, Dubai and South Africa,” a garda spokesperson said.

“The investigation is also conducting enquiries into persons of varying nationalities, multi-linguistic, fluent in a number of languages to deceive their victims both nationally and internationally.”

The spokesperson added that investigations into the matter are ongoing. 

Warning 

Gardaí are currently warning the public to always be suspicious of both texts and calls that ask for personal data such as bank details, or money.

“Sophisticated fraudsters use texts, calls and emails to trick members of the public into giving away their personal data, enabling the fraudsters to take over their bank account, devices or debit/credit card details,” the garda spokesperson continued.

Members of the public are advised to be wary of cold calls and texts, even if the text comes in the same thread as previous genuine messages from their bank.

Gardaí advise that you should always ask the caller their name and number and if you have any concerns, just hang up and ring your bank or service provider using the number on your bill or statement.

You should never give away personal data, such as bank details, PIN numbers, passwords, one-time codes, PPS number or Eircode, and never transfer money. 

Gardai also warn that just because a number looks like an Irish, that may not be the case.

They advise that you should never download apps that could give fraudsters control of your device, and never ever click on links.

They also recommended getting advice from a trusted person before taking any action. 

Victims are advised to change their passwords and pin codes and also report the fraud to their bank and gardaí.