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Gardaí swamped with complaints over new ‘vishing’ scam as one woman loses €5,000


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Fraudsters have been calling hundreds of people, claiming to be gardaí, officials from the Department of Social Protection and even from the Attorney General’s Office.

Officers have been swamped with complaints this week from people across the country who were victims of various ‘vishing’ scams.

On Wednesday there were at least 10 separate complaints made to gardaí nationwide about the ongoing issue, which is suspected of being organised by an Asian crime gang.

The Irish Independent obtained one fraudulent automated message sent to people where the caller claims to be from the Department of Social Protection and says there has been suspicious activity on a person’s “public service number”.

It says an arrest warrant is in place for the person over money laundering and drug trafficking, before encouraging the person to “press one to reach the investigating officer for further information”.

“This is just one variation of the scam that is hugely prevalent this week. The figures that gardaí have are only from people who have made complaints, the actual amount of people who have been targeted would be far greater,” a senior source said.

Vishing relies on convincing victims they are doing the right thing by responding to the caller.

Often a caller will pretend to be calling from the government, tax department, police, or the victim’s bank.

It is similar to scams such as phishing or smishing, except in vishing people are targeted in unsolicited phone calls.

Earlier this week a 25-year-old woman based in Dublin lost €5,000 when she was called by what she thought was a government department who held her on the phone for four hours.

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“The woman was told a car which had been rented using her details had been used in the commission of a serious criminal offence,” a senior source said.

“The victim was directed to deposit the money in a cryptocurrency machine,” the source added.

On Wednesday, a 60-year-old woman based in Cork was scammed out of €300 after getting a call from a male who identified himself as a garda, while on the same day a 60-year-old Dublin man lost €600 in a similar scam.

In a separate case, a man presented at Store Street Garda Station to report he had received a phone call from a person claiming to be a garda and he had provided the caller with his Personal Public Service (PPS) number before he became suspicious and ended the call.

Gardaí believe this man was being targeted in relation to the fraudulent claiming of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), which has also been rampant across the country.

In another case this week a person was called by a fraudster who claimed to be from the Office of the Attorney General stating that their bank account had been compromised. Thankfully, no funds were stolen in this attempted fraud.

Gardaí repeated their advice to never share personal information data with such callers or with people who make contact by text.

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