Cyber-crime gangs with global threat detected within Ireland

Assistant Commissioner of An Garda Síochána, Derek Byrne and Finbarr Garland from Done Deal who launched the 2014 Crimestoppers Annual Report, detailing the impact Crimestoppers has had in combatting crime in Ireland. Photo: Mark Condren

Adam Cullen

Some of the world's most serious incidents of cyber-crime have been detected in Ireland, according to a top-ranking garda.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Derek Byrne said offenders such as paedophiles, hacking groups and organised online gangs had been targeted in this jurisdiction.

However, despite increasing detection rates, Mr Byrne said cyber-crime remained a constant and developing threat in Ireland.

It is estimated that one-in-five Irish people have been the victim of online crime, costing the Irish economy more than €350m a year.

Mr Byrne said there was a growing trend of "infections" reported on personal computers across the nation.

"In many cases, people are not even aware that they have been targeted until it's too late.

"These are dedicated and intelligent networks of criminals that set out to take your personal details," he warned.

"We have had some of the most important detections in this jurisdiction globally in terms of the darknet, paedophilia and anonymous hacking groups. Over the last three years, some of the world's biggest threats have been detected in Ireland."

Mr Byrne was speaking at the publication of the Crimestoppers 2014 annual report in Dublin yesterday.

Tip-offs from the public made through the confidential phoneline have led to a number of successful convictions. Crimestoppers received an average of 138 calls a month last year on various crimes including attempted murder, child abuse and drug dealing.

In Leinster, heroin, cocaine and cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €25,000 was seized as a direct result of tip-offs.

Other successes include the arrest of a man for sexual offences, the seizure of a firearm and the recovery of two stolen high-powered cars.

Evidence from an attempted murder was also recovered allowing vital forensic evidence to be secured.

Crimestoppers has run a number of campaigns in relation to high-profile cases of missing women such as Fiona Pender.

"We get a great level of interest when we publish these campaigns," said Mr Byrne, "but there has been no detection to date.

"But we live and hope that through the Crimestoppers line or any other means, someone will come forward.

"Those files remain open and active, and we are ready to go in a heartbeat with any information from any source.

"I am appealing for anyone to pass on even the smallest detail to us. Families are living a nightmare."

Crimestoppers: 1800 25 00 25