Find out about the latest frauds and scams, how they work, and how you can avoid them.
Criminals will advertise “Job vacancies” on the internet. Usually you will need no experience and the only requirement will be that you hold a Bank Account. Once recruited, you the “Money Mule” will be duped into receiving stolen funds into their account. A request will then be received to forward the funds less a commission, usually overseas, using a wire transfer service.
Warning: Being a 'Money Mule' is a criminal offence under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 and it can carry up to 14 years imprisonment.
Investors should be vigilant to potential scams targeted at shareholders in Irish and other public companies. They generally offer a high yield on investments such as crypto currencies or other shares.
How share frauds/scams operate
These frauds, commonly referred to as “boiler room scams”, are operated by individuals and companies who contact investors unexpectedly and offer to buy their shares at prices higher than the market value. They can obtain investor information, such as address and shareholding details, by accessing shareholder lists which are required by Irish Company law to be made available. While “cold-calling” by telephone is the most common form of contact, they may also use email, post, face-to-face contact or approach investors at seminars.
Other cases involve individual’s cold-calling the victims offering shares in a company. Again contact may also be made using email, post, or in person but once established present similar features using high pressure sales tactics pressurising investors into making a quick decision or else miss out on a deal which promises a large return on their investment. The offer to purchase shares will likely come with a request for bank details or money up front as a bond or other form of security, which will be accompanied by a guarantee to pay back the money involved if the sale does not go ahead. This advance fee is part of the scam, investors are unlikely to hear from them again.
However be aware that the people behind the scams will also share or sell on their contact lists to other fraudsters. This can lead to you becoming a future target of other related scams.
What to do if you’re contacted
Obtain independent advice from a qualified advisor or stockbroker
Criminals will email fake invoices and delivery notifications appearing to come from legitimate courier companies. The emails will indicate that they were unable to deliver a package to your address and of course ask you to confirm your address and provide credit card details to pay for delivery or a re-delivery.
If the offer looks too good to be true it probably is. Beware of imitation goods for sale, most are substandard, many are dangerous and in some cases lethal. Be especially careful when buying computers good such as laptops etc. In some cases they have come "preloaded" with malware. There are also lots of fake auctions and classified ad sites. Make sure you are dealing with a genuine business. NEVER sign a blank cheque in advance
Criminals write false cheques from your chequebook or intercept cheques which you have written and alter them. Fraudsters have also been known to use old unused chequebooks which you have discarded, or get access to cheques which you have signed in advance.
Criminals will promise a large sum of money but one which will require funds. A person will typically receive a letter or an email that promises an "invoice," "lottery prize," or "bequest." But only if they send “taxes” or “administration fees” first. The person will never receive the money they were promised.
Criminals set up websites offering unsecured loans. Generally they claim that the application will be processed quickly. Applicants can be required to:-
NEVER apply to a company/lender that is not authorised by The Central Bank Of Ireland.
ALWAYS check the register of authorised firms on The Central Bank webpage HERE
In some instances the details of an authorised firm are cloned and criminals purport to be either that entity or an associated entity.
You are required to provide card details and authorise the merchant to debit money from your account for the investment.
You discover that the market suddenly collapses when you go to cash out. You may even be tempted to put more money into the investment in an attempt to recoup the losses which never materialise.