Email scam unravels when fraudsters impersonate Cork councillor who still uses a typewriter 

Email scam unravels when fraudsters impersonate Cork councillor who still uses a typewriter 
Cllr Noel Collins

BUNGLING fraudsters set up fake email accounts for local politicians to swindle money out of people — but the scam unravelled when they tried to impersonate a councillor who uses a typewriter for all correspondence.

A request for financial help was sent out from an email address purporting to be from Midleton-based Councillor Noel Collins — but the recipients knew it was fake because Mr Collins famously has no mobile phone, no landline, and still writes all his correspondence on a typewriter.

Mr Collins was one of three councillors who were impersonated via email in an attempted to scam money from other members of Cork County Council.

Fraudulent emails were also sent from a fake account purporting to be Carrigaline’s Seamus McGrath and Fermoy’s Noel McCarthy. 

They were sent to other members and former members of their municipal districts looking for money.

Cllr Noel Collins has never had a phone.
Cllr Noel Collins has never had a phone.

The email which purported to come from Cllr Noel Collins saw the scam quickly unravel.

Upon receiving the email, Independent councillor Mary Linehan Foley, Sinn Féin’s Danielle Twomey, and Fine Gael’s Susan McCarthy immediately knew something was up.

Mr Collins, the longest-serving councillor in Ireland, with more than 50 years of public service, has famously shunned modern technology and uses an old-fashioned typewriter to compose letters to constituents.

Mrs McCarthy replied to the initial email request for assistance, just in case Mr Collins, who was cocooning, was in fact reaching out online.

However, she soon realised it was most certainly not Mr Collins emailing her.

“I responded carefully and I got this hilarious email back, it was so unprofessional, looking for iTunes vouchers to help people in palliative care.”

The Fine Gael councillor said the email was badly worded and vague.

Cllr. Noel Collins is a former Mayor of Midleton
Cllr. Noel Collins is a former Mayor of Midleton

After making enquiries, she realised that a similar situation had occurred in Carrigaline and Fermoy.

Cllr Seamus McGrath, who had been impersonated online by someone pretending to be putting on a fundraiser, said it was very unfortunate that this type of thing was becoming more common.

He alerted Cork County Council, who sent out an advisory to all members in relation to phishing scams. Mrs McCarthy made a complaint to the Gardaí.

She said: “It’s going to take a long time. They have frozen that account, but the gardaí won’t do anything until after Covid-19 because they are inundated with fraud investigations, so they are not doing anything under €5,000 that has actually occurred.

“They are not doing attempted frauds at the moment. It will be a long time before that is resolved.”

Carrigaline councillor Seamus McGrath said that it was very important for people to be vigilant in relation to messages and emails they are receiving from people.

“It is very serious, there are more and more examples of people trying to scam others. We need to be more careful about messages, and questions things. It is unfortunate we need to do this, but we do.”

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