Monday, May 20, 2024

Fraudsters re-target victims promising to recover money

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The banking industry is warning people who have previously fallen victim to investment fraud about new scams where the fraudsters are promising to recover their lost money.

The scam is particularly being targeted at people over the age of 50.

The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland’s FraudSMART campaign says it is seeing growing numbers of cases of this re-targeting through so-called “recovery scams”.

These involve fraudsters, often using the names and brands of well-known banks and investment firms, contacting those who have been scammed in the past.

The scammers promise to get the victim’s lost money back, but seek the payment of a “retainer” or “processing” fee upfront.

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“The recovery scam often comes from the same criminals behind the original investment scam, or else the victim’s personal information has been passed on or sold to other criminals,” said Niamh Davenport, Head of Financial Crime with BPFI.

“The fraudster, using the information from the previous scam, can ‘helpfully’ tell the victim about the earlier fraud, which can make them sound credible.”

“There have also been cases where people have been targeted through online and social media ads.”

In some cases where the criminal has been successful, they have managed to extract between €1,000 to €10,000 from the victim.

“Fraudsters are using deceptive and elaborate techniques using the names and branding of well-recognised banks and investment firms, with some fraudsters even going so far as to create a ‘copy-cat’ profile on social media of a real employee or ‘agent’ from an investment firm to convince people of their legitimacy,” said Ms Davenport.

FraudSMART is warning that if approached in this way, people should take a moment and independently contact the company the person is purporting to be contacting them from.

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They should also be sceptical about cold calls, text messages, letters, emails, or messages on social media from someone who says they can recover money lost in a scam for a fee.

“We are continuing to see significant increases in investment scams, which can be very convincing and sophisticated,” said Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.

“Recent figures published by An Garda Síochána showed an increase of over 90% in reports of this type of fraud in 2023 and these increases are continuing into 2024.”

“Victims of this type of fraud tend to be over 50 years of age and we would like to advise all members of the public, particularly those over age of 50, to be on alert for these scams, to be wary of offers only advertised through social media or allegedly endorsed by celebrities and if you believe you may be victim of investment fraud to report it to your bank and An Garda Síochána as soon as possible.”

“Always seek professional advice before making any investments and if an offer sounds too good to be true, then unfortunately it probably is.”

In one case, a man who lost €80,000 in what he thought was a real investment scheme was contacted six months later by what was claimed to be a “refund recovery firm”.

He was told that he could recover the money lost if he paid an administration fee of €8,000, which would later be refunded.

After paying the money, the man later became suspicious when several days later he hadn’t heard anything more from the so-called refund recovery firm.

Almost €60 million was stolen from victims of investment fraud in the past four years.

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