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Fraud probe Dubliner (20) arrested over 'smishing' scam is suspected of selling stolen data to crime gangs

The debit or credit cards are sold in packages to gangs who then steal the money."

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Ballymun garda station

Ballymun garda station

Ballymun garda station

A 20-year-old Dublin man is the first person in Ireland to be identified for creating and delivering messages which have been used in multiple ‘smishing’ crimes all over the country.

The arrest of the computer exert from south Dublin by specialist detectives yesterday is considered “highly significant” for that reason.

Smishing – a combination of the words “SMS” and “phishing” – is a scam where fraudsters use mobile phone text messages to trick you into opening a malicious attachment or link.

Fraud squad detectives believe that the suspect who is originally from south Dublin has been sending messages to victims attempting to fool them into believing they have been contacted by an international courier company and a subscription streaming service.

In what is described as a “very complicated” investigation, the suspected fraudster is believed to have sold the data he obtained to international crime organisations who then steal from the bank accounts of the victims.

“The debit or credit cards are sold in packages to gangs who then steal the money. It is suspected that he has used a cryptocurrency wallet for the selling of the stolen data,” a senior source said.

“What is unique about this case is that the suspect is believed to have actually created the smishing messages and was involved in delivering them as well,” the source added.

The suspect is understood to be a computer expert and was not previously known to officers for involvement in crime but he is now being questioned under anti-gangland legislation.

Gardai announced details of the arrest operation last night.

“Gardaí attached to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) have arrested a man, aged in his 20s, as part of an ongoing investigation into cyber offending online and ‘smishing’,” a spokesman said.

“The arrest was made on Thursday 17th February 2022 in Ballymun following a search operation by GNECB and officers from the DMR South Central Detective Unit.

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“The man is currently detained under the provisions of Section 50 the Criminal Justice Act, 2007 at Ballymun Garda station and can be detained for up to 7 days.

“This investigation is part of Operation KRYPTOS, an operation that is part of ongoing investigations into cyber offending online and the sending of bogus ‘smishing’ text messages to victims throughout the country,” he explained.

Gardai said in their statement that the advice from the GNECB on ‘smishing’ includes always be wary of text messages even if they are contained within the thread of previous genuine text from a financial institution and never click on links – as by doing so you may be accessing cloned websites.

They added that if a person is expecting a delivery and receive such a text, be very careful and pointed out that banking institutions will never send a text containing a link.

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