'Do you know who has access to your data?': Cork expert warns of most common fraud practices

'Do you know who has access to your data?': Cork expert warns of most common fraud practices

Det Chief Supt Pat Lordan, originally from West Cork, is currently in the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB). Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

FRAUD expert, Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan, has warned the Cork community about an increased threat of business infiltration through staff and company visitors.

Det Chief Supt Lordan spoke about the “risk from within” in terms of company fraud and said it is something Gardaí are starting to see more of.

“There is a risk, we are starting to see more of it, through staff, managers, temporary staff., etc.”

The fraud expert, who has 36 years of experience within the Gardaí, asked business owners to think about who has access to their information.

“Do you know who has access to your data, every day of the week?”

The Corkman, originally from West Cork, growing up in Drimoleague, said the easiest thing to steal from a company is information as a handyman, pizza delivery person, etc.

Det Chief Supt Lordan, who is currently in the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB), ran through the most common fraud practices that are affecting members of the public.

“The five areas that affect you, where you live, work, etc are phishing/smishing and social media, business email compromise, investment fraud, online shopping fraud and money mules.

In terms of phishing, which is emails seeking personal information, or smishing, which is texts also looking for personal information, both pretending to be reputable sources, Det Chief Supt Lordan said it was unlikely a stop could be put to them and people needed to be careful.

“We all thought the telephone was a great invention, but never did they think you could do so much with it. We see organised crime groups, right across the country and the globe, running their whole operation from their phone.

“They don’t need a computer or anything else, that brings a lot of challenges. The scam calls, I hate the term, they are thieves and robbers and organised crime at its best. The best advice I have is don’t give them information, don’t give them your pin number or pass codes.

“Will they ever go away? Probably not.

“We engage with telecom companies and different industries throughout the globe and it is a worldwide problem at the moment. As we get better, they get better.”

Offering advice, he says ignore and don’t engage.

“Don’t click on the links, you haven’t won the Spanish lottery, because you never did it, so forget about it, you don’t win these things by accident.”

In terms of social media, the Det Chief Supt said be careful what you post.

“It’s amazing what we are putting up. You might say you never put things up, but what about your children, neighbours, siblings, what do they put up? It’s worth googling your own name, to see what comes up. See how much info is out there.

“I guarantee, within an hour, I could get your date of birth, where you live, name of your cat/dog, the car you drive, etc.”

A big issue for businesses at the moment is invoice redirection, where money is transferred to an account other than intended.

“We have had a lot of success getting information back in certain cases, but we need to know about it very very quickly.”

In general, the Corkman said verify details before sending money.

“If someone changes bank details, ring them and check.

Det Chief Supt Lordan also said solicitor impersonation is on the rise.

“Someone is buying a house, they get an email from the solicitor asking to pay the amount to this account, they pay the balance, the email is compromised and the money is gone, never to be seen again.”

The fraud expert emphasised people should not rely on email.

Another issue that is prevalent at the moment is investment fraud, particularly in the form of cryptocurrency.

“People are going online with investments, trying to buy cryptocurrency, but they are not actually buying cryptocurrency.”

Det Chief Supt Lordan said he has seen people lose sums of €100,000 to as much as €250,000.

“Please don’t just go online and go to first website you see, please get advice from someone you trust. Many of these companies don’t exist in the real world, cryptocurrency, oil, you have to go to the right place.”

In the first seven months of this year, in cryptocurrency investment fraud, criminals have netted €8m in this country, according to the GNECB.

“That’s a fair chunk of money out of the pockets of people. Please be aware of it. It is one of the big thorns in our side.”

In relation to online shopping, he encouraged people to shop local.

“Spend money locally and you don’t have to worry about it. I hear so many stories about the sizing being wrong, the colour being wrong, the dress not fitting, people need to wake up a little bit and see how much they are really saving.

“People are losing thousands of euros here and there, farmers buying machinery online, for €30k, sending money abroad and nothing ever arrives. It is bewildering of how trusting people are in relation to online.”

Finally, speaking about money mules, Det Chief Supt Lordan said without money mules, criminals can’t succeed.

“It makes things difficult for them to get the money out of their system. They don’t want to put money in their own accounts.”

The fraud expert said young people between the ages of 14 and 22 are being targeted by criminals for the role.

“It could be students, it could be your daughter, your son, your nephew, your niece. We have done a lot of work with colleges yet we are seeing hundreds of students every year, giving their bank details to criminals.

“The guards will come knocking on your door and you will be in serious trouble, because you have just laundered the proceeds of a crime, more than likely from another country for a financial crime gang.

“No part of the country is immune, colleges being targeted, it is a challenge to stop the young people giving their details.”

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