Growth in investment fraud scams as Irish people lose €3m this year

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Digital Desk staff

Irish people have lost around €3 million to investment fraud in the first eight months of this year.

Gardaí have seen a significant increase in the numbers of people being scammed into investing in non-existent opportunities this year compared to previous ones.

It is projected that at least €4.5 million will be reported stolen this year – an increase of more than a third on last year.

It’s a very professional looking site, it offers huge opportunities to make fast money.

Garda Superintendent Michael Cryan says the criminals use cold calling and fake websites to target people: “It’s a very professional looking site, it offers huge opportunities to make fast money, and almost immediately they will get a call from a person who’s a hard, hard aggressive sell.”

In one case currently under investigation, a woman invested over €375,000 in an online company buying cryptocurrency, continuing to invest more as she was sent reports informing her that her deposits were growing and she was making profits.

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When the woman tried to cash it out, she realised there was no money at all.

In another case, a man was online when a pop-up ad appeared, purporting to be from the Irish Times and a leading Irish politician praising the advantages of investing in cryptocurrency.

The man followed the link and received a call from a “financial advisor,” and over the course of numerous conversations with this man and his “supervisor” lost €3,000 to a bank account in Russia.

They are set up by criminals, they are run by criminals, and at the end of the day you will not get your money back.

Garda Superintendent Pat Lordan says it is extremely difficult to catch the criminals responsible: “Six to twelve months can pass by before it’s reported to the gardaí, and we have very, very little chance of ever recovering your money.”

“I can understand why people would fall for it... people are looking for opportunities to get better interest rates and better return, but I’m afraid you will not get it from these websites.

“They are set up by criminals, they are run by criminals, and at the end of the day you will not get your money back.”

Gardaí are urging people to ignore cold callers or anyone offering them investment opportunities online, and to always seek independent financial advice before investing.

Victims

65 people from across the country have reported being the victim of investment fraud so far this year, in just over a 60 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

Gardaí say the figure is likely to be higher, as many victims do not report the crime due to embarrassment.

Close to 60 per cent of victims were male, while middle-aged people were more likely to fall victim.

Gardaí say the key signs to watch out for with investment scams are as follows:

  • The victim is cold called, i.e. they receive a telephone call out of the blue or receive an e-mail or are contacted via social media about a great investment opportunity.
  • The victim is rushed and pressured into making a decision there and then, with no opportunity or time to consider the investment opportunity.
  • There is a promise of a quick and profitable return on the investment with little or no risk.
  • If the victim does some research on the company name and see terms like ‘the reputation of this broker is doubtful’ or ‘at best it is an unregulated broker’ then caution should be taken and the victim should walk away.

Further information on investment and other fraud types can be found on the FraudSMART website.

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