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cop swoop Gardai probing €6m invoice fraud make 'highly significant' arrest as suspected stolen property recovered

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Some of the suspected stolen goods recovered by the gardai in the raids today

Some of the suspected stolen goods recovered by the gardai in the raids today

Some of the suspected stolen goods recovered by the gardai in the raids today

A 37-year-old man who was arrested in the Crumlin area of the capital this morning is suspected of being one of the main players in a €6 million international invoice redirect fraud being directed from Ireland.

The Nigerian national is being questioned under anti-gangland legislation as is a 37-year-old woman who is originally from Ghana who was arrested in the Santry area of Dublin’s northside.

They are being held at Pearse Street and Kevin Street Garda stations.

The arrest of the duo by detectives from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) is considered “highly significant” and brings to 10 the amount of people arrested as part of the fraud squad’s Operation SKEIN.

The arrests happened after detectives followed the money trail after two companies – one based in Dubai and the other in Hong Kongwere duped out of €55,000 due to separate invoice redirect frauds.

Invoice redirection fraud happens when a person or a business fall prey to requests, purporting to emanate from trusted suppliers or service providers, into believing that a beneficiary’s bank account details have been changed.

As a result, funds that are due to be paid out are transferred to a fraudulent account.

Officers from the GNECB established that the €55,000 had ended up in the bank account of a Co Monaghan based woman who is closely associated to the man who was arrested yesterday.

Further investigations showed that €33,000 of this money was used to make “high end purchases” in the Grafton Street area of the capital between St Stephen’s Day and December 31st last.

This included designer clothes, perfumes, alcohol, laptop, mobile phones and other products.

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Following a detailed surveillance operation and the analysis of CCTV in the city centre, detectives were able to identify the37-year-old Nigerian and raid his Crumlin home this morning where they recovered virtually all the goods he had bought in his spending splurge.

“Gardai are satisfied that he is high up on the food chain in terms of this organised criminal gang and what proves that really is that he was freely able to spend the money that came from those two latest thefts,” a senior source pointed out.

“The fact he was using a bank card to buy all those products shows that he was no mere money mule for the organisation,” the source added.

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While 10 arrests have now been made so far as part of Operation SKEIN, the GNECB have identified 90 suspects resident in Ireland and are satisfied that €5 million of the stolen €6 million has been laundered through Irish bank accounts.

Gardai announced details of the arrest operation today.

“The property seized is believed to have been purchased via the proceeds of Business Email Compromise (BEC) / Invoice Re-Direct Frauds which occurred in Asia during December 2020. The purchases were made in Dublinover the Christmas period in 2020,” a spokesman said.

He said the two suspects were being held in Kevin Street and Pearse Street Garda Stations where they can be held for up to a week.

These two arrests mark the 9th and 10th arrest as part of Operation SKEIN.

Operation SKEIN is an investigation into international BEC/Invoice re-direct fraud being committed from Ireland and the laundering of the proceeds through accounts here.

To date, this investigation has identified that over €6,000,000 has been stolen worldwide with about €5,000,000 laundered through accounts in Ireland. Over 90 suspects have been identified throughout the country.

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