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Tuesday 28 March 2017

Gardai smash fraud ring targeting charities

Tom Brady Security Editor

Gardai have smashed an international gang who attempted to steal €2.5m from business firms and charities by illegally using their bank details and forging signatures on documents

Two men and a woman, all from Zimbabwe, were arrested by detectives from the Garda Fraud Bureau after a lengthy investigation.

Speedy intervention by gardai prevented most of the scams from being successful, and, in one case, last month detectives helped to recover €160,000, which was being taken from the account of the Marie Keating Foundation.

Other charities targeted by the fraud gang included the Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre, established by the former Irish soccer international after his sister died from breast cancer, and the Des Smyth Drogheda Youth Foundation, set up by the professional golfer to help disadvantaged children in the area.

Although most of the attempted frauds were thwarted, the gang were successful in getting away with €300,000 in transferred monies.

However, the extent of the scam may have been greater than initially feared.

Following raids by the fraud bureau in Drogheda and Galway on Wednesday, officers recovered a full range of high-spec counterfeiting equipment to clone credit cards and transfer details from genuine cards to blanks.

Detectives also discovered that the gang had been involved in the theft of cheques sent through the post on both sides of the Border and in Britain.

The credit-card equipment was discovered in a house in Drogheda following a search by fraud officers and local detectives.

Gardai will now widen the extent of their inquiries to establish the number of victims affected by the cheque thefts and card cloning.

Fraud detectives believe at least five people were involved in this gang, who have been operating the scam since May.

A file is to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against some of the suspects.

Irish Independent

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