Scam victim who bought Apple computer is sent piece of fruit
An unsuspecting customer, who purchased an Apple Mac computer online, was dismayed to find he had paid several hundred euro just for a piece of fruit.
Now gardai are trying to establish if any victims of the scam are based here in Ireland.
Fraudsters, who set up the online scam, sent out apples and other fruit, vegetables and bricks, to their victims instead of their intended purchases.
An organised crime gang, who masterminded the international fraud, conned hundreds of victims in at least 15 countries.
The gang, who had been operating the scam since last year, were based in Poland but lured online victims from countries ranging from the United States, to Canada, India, and several EU countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK.
The sales were made through online auctions, hosted on eBay and other Polish platforms.
After making electronic payments for goods such as the Apple Mac computers, customers using the Polish platforms were sent the apples and other small items while those using eBay received nothing.
As soon as the fraudsters received the electronic funds, they transferred them to prepaid cards and then withdrew the cash at ATMs. Customers shopping on eBay were protected by a money-back guarantee.
The full extent of the scam has not yet been determined. Police are aware already that the gang made off with €35,000 but fear that the final figure will be much higher.
The police operation was co-ordinated by the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol in The Hague and it worked closely with eBay to uncover the gang.
Head of operations at EC3 and former senior garda officer, Paul Gillen, told the Irish Independent last night: "This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when Europol joins together with national police forces and outside agencies such as eBay to successfully dismantle a criminal group responsible for sophisticated online frauds across several countries."
During a series of raids on targeted homes in Poland at the weekend, police seized a large quantity of potential evidence, including anonymous prepaid cards, cars, laptops and mobile phones, according to authorities.
Officers also arrested two key suspects in Pulawy, Poland, while they were attempting to withdraw what police believed to be fraudulently obtained cash from an ATM.
Mr Gillen said EC3 cyber experts assisted Polish law enforcement authorities by providing on-the-spot expertise and real-time access to Europol's databases while eBay provided support from its Dublin-based operations centre by helping police to trace criminal online activity, via live monitoring systems.