In March and April 2021 there has been a substantial increase in victims receiving “phishing” phone calls from people purporting to be from the H.S.E, Tusla, Gardaí and social protection entities or Government Departments etc.
The victim receives a phone call initially or a voicemail from a 083 number. The voicemail is usually an automated voice advising them to press 1. Once the victim selects a number they are put through to a person who advises them that their PPS number or their bank account has been used in some serious crime – in most cases it has been money laundering or drug trafficking. Some victims are led to believe that there is warrant for their arrest in existence. The victim is then advised that their accounts are compromised in some way or implicated in a crime and in order to make their money safe their money will need to be moved to a different account. In a number of recent cases the victims were persuaded to download apps and allow remote access to their laptops. Allowing fraudsters to have access to their personal data and online banking. They then move money into different accounts. In a few cases where the victim became suspicious and questioned the legitimacy of the call they received call backs from numbers that appeared to be official Garda numbers, mainly Headquarters at the Phoenix Park.
In all cases what the fraudster wants is a victim’s personal data and control of their bank account in order to steal money from them. Fraudsters use deception to influence and manipulate victims into divulging personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.
Community Gardaí – Crime Prevention Advice:
- Always say “NO” to unsolicited callers or texters seeking private information about you. Private information includes your name, address, date of birth, family details, bank account numbers, PIN, Passwords. Do not try to return missed calls to these unknown numbers.
- Independently verify any requests for information and never use the contact details supplied to you by the caller or texter. Independent means independent of the caller or texter.
- The caller may already have some information about you so don’t trust them because they use your name or other personal information.
- An Garda Síochána or your bank will never look for your banking PIN number or Password or ask you to transfer money, or come to your home to collect your payment card, cheque book or cash.
- If your worried or in doubt about anything please don’t hesitate to contact your local Garda Station or local Community Garda for advice.
- In an effort to prevent these crimes from happening, Gardai are also asking members of the public to inform more vulnerable people about these scams and how they operate.