Gardai swoop over €4m online banking scam
Published 05/08/2010 | 05:00
GARDA fraud squad officers have raided a house in Co Meath, as part of an international investigation into a UK internet banking scam believed to have netted criminals more than €4m.
Detectives seized a quantity of documents while assisting an investigation by the London Metropolitan Police Service's e-Crime Unit.
The raid followed the arrests of five men and one woman, aged between 25 and 40 and living in London, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit online banking fraud and other offences.
One of the men arrested also had an address in Navan, and this house was searched on Tuesday. The man is not from Ireland.
"A quantity of documents was seized, but no arrests were made on the Irish side of the operation," a garda source told the Irish Independent.
The gang is suspected of stealing up to €430,000 from UK bank accounts by ripping off personal internet banking details. A further €3.6m is thought to have been stolen through the fraudulent use of UK credit cards.
However, the figures involved could become larger as the investigation progresses.
The offences were committed almost entirely online, according to the Metropolitan Police.
They have been investigating a gang suspected of using fake websites and spam emails to obtain online passwords and credit card numbers.
More than 10,000 bank accounts and a further 10,000 credit cards are believed to have been compromised by the gang's activities, investigators said.
The scam involved gang members sending large quantities of unsolicited spam emails, directing victims to spoof web sites, purporting to be legitimate online banking sites.
Once a victim reaches the site, they were lured into providing their banking passwords and other personal information. The information was used by the suspected fraudsters to then unlawfully enter the victims' online bank accounts and transfer funds. Credit card details were obtained and exploited in the same way.
Detective Inspector Colin Wetherill, of the Metropolitan Police, said it is not yet known exactly how much has been stolen.
"We have taken this action to shut down an organised criminal network running an online phishing and account take-over operation," he said.
"A great deal of personal information was compromised and cleverly exploited for substantial profit.
"By disrupting the operation we have hopefully prevented further loss to individuals and institutions," he added.
A garda spokesman said people should be careful when supplying personal information online.