Thousands of euro fleeced from unsuspecting victims sparks call by Limerick gardai to be aware of phone scams

person using smartphone
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

DESPITE repeated highlighting of the prevalence of scam artists fleecing people through fake phone calls, gardai said they are continuing to see people fall fowl of the phone scams.

“Well, one thing I have discovered is that as much as I mention them, I must not be talking about them enough because people are still being scammed daily in Limerick. There were two (recent) incidences of account take-overs, this is where a person is tricked into giving a criminal access to their on-line banking and one case of where a lady was tricked into transferring money to another account,” remarked Sergeant Ber Leetch, crime prevention officer at Henry Street Garda Station.

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Outlining recent cases in Limerick, she said: “In one case, it was a woman in her 60s from Ballyneety. She received a phone call regarding her Wi-Fi, she was given advice to download an App, she did and then the criminal had access to her on-line banking and took almost €3,000 from her account.”

“In the other case a woman in her early 40’s from Ballyneety received a text from who she thought was her bank. She replied to the text and basically provided these criminals access to her bank account too. She lost almost €2,000.”

Sergeant Leetch advised the public: “Never trust an email or text message from a bank, contact your bank directly yourself but only on the phone number you looked up and never a phone number in the text or email.”

In another recent case “a lady in her 70’s from Abbeyfeale received a phone call from a male who said he was from her banks fraud squad, ultimately, he persuaded her to transfer some cash via Western Union money transfer to another account, she lost almost €1,000”.

Sergeant Leetch the criminals involved in such fraud are very believable: “Yes, they are, and now scam calls are coming from 01 Dublin landline numbers which look legitimate.”

She added: “If you receive a phone call unexpectedly from a stranger, no matter who they say they are, you should be suspicious but be very suspicious if there is an urgency about a request they are making either for money or any personal information. STOP and hang up, and if the calls persist, seek advice from a trusted friend or family member but never give personal or bank details to anybody and never download an App on the advice of a stranger.”

Sergeant Leetch said criminals were also continuing to fleece people through older traditional forms of fraud, including bogus workmen calling to houses.

Highlighting another recent case in Limerick, Sgt Leetch said: “Gardai in Mayorstone received a report that two men called to a lady in her late 80’s, who lives alone in Caherdavin; they offered to repair her roof for two hundred euro but needed the money upfront”.

“The lady paid them and they said that they were getting a receipt for her from their car but they drove off.”

She urged people to “keep an eye out for your neighbours, especially the vulnerable”.

“This incident happened at ten o’clock in the morning in a busy estate, Gardai know that these criminals will try this again, so do not answer the door to anybody unless you know them, and contact your local Gardai if the caller persists.”