An email purporting to have been sent by gardai informing a woman that she was under investigation for viewing material of sexual offences against children is an extortion scam, gardaí warned on Tuesday.
It is the second such Garda warning in as many weeks, with the latest incident involving “a lady in her 60s who lives in the Dooradoyle area who received an e-mail which was set up to look like it came from An Garda Siochana”, explained Sergeant Ber Leetch, crime prevention office, Henry Street Garda Station in Limerick.
“There was a PDF link attached, when the lady opened it she saw that it was a letter which stated she had viewed images of child pornography and that a Garda investigation was underway. Whomever sent this email were hoping to get a reaction from the lady which Gardai believed would lead to them asking for money,” said Sgt Leetch.
“Instead, the lady contacted her local Garda station who could assure her that the email was not from An Garda Siochana but, it was pointed out to her to be careful of opening links on an email from an unknown source. Most people would open an email if it looked like it was from An Garda Siochana, but the scammers know this, and it shows how clever they can be, so people must be extra vigilant when online,” she warned.
Last week, gardaí said that a politician in the West of Ireland received a letter in the post which stated the politician was suspected of engaging in sexual offences against children, which Sgt Leetch said was also a “scam”.
The letter sent to the politician in late April, purporting to be from Department of Justice and the European police agency Europol, “claimed to be a ‘Judicial Summoning’ from the ‘head of the brigade for the protection of minors’ and (it) accused the county councillor of having engaged in child pornography,” said Sgt Leetch.
“The letter was sent to this councillor in an effort to get a reaction from him, the scammers hoped that he would contact them directly and once contact was made, the next step was probably to invite him to pay a fine or ransom. The scam failed as the councillor contacted local Gardai and they could reassure him that the letter or summons was a complete fake.”
“I frequently give crime prevention advice on scams by phone, email, text etc, but it’s important to remember that letters by post are also used. Report any scam to Gardai, it gives me the opportunity to caution others,,” said Sgt Leetch.