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Fraud probe €9m of stolen money laundered through Ireland, Gardai believe

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Goods seized by Gardai

Goods seized by Gardai

Goods seized by Gardai

AN international network of fraudsters targeted as part of a special garda operation laundered at least €9m worth of stolen money through Ireland, investigators have discovered.

Gardai were continuing to question a 37-year-old Nigerian man who was arrested in Crumlin this week as part of Operation Skein which is targeting an international crime network involved in invoice redirect fraud.

A 37-year-old woman, originally from Ghana, who arrested in Santry was released without charge during the week.

Gardai have now arrested 10 people as part of Operation Skein and identified over 90 suspects throughout the country as part of the operation.

Gardai say to date the investigation has identified that over €10,000,000 has been stolen worldwide with about €9,000,000 laundered through accounts in Ireland.

The majority of suspects identified here are money mules used by the international network to launder the cash through bank accounts here but some of those targeted are much higher up the chain.

The scam is believed to be led by Nigerian criminals but suspects from Ireland, Italy, Romania and other countries have also been arrested as part of the operation.

The arrest of the Nigerian man this week is seen as highly significant.

His arrest came after €55,000 stolen from companies based in Hong Kong and Dubai in December was transferred to the bank account of a Monaghan-based woman with links to the man arrested this week.

Some €33,000 of this was used to make high-end purchases in and around Grafton Street in Dublin in December.

The goods purchased included designer clothes, perfumes, alcohol, a laptop and mobile phones.

Gardai were able to identify the Nigerian man from CCTV and surveillance and raided his home this week.

Investigators seized over €20,000 worth of goods as part of the operation.

Gardai from the National Economic Crime Bureau also prevented an attempt to withdraw €3m from a Dublin bank after identifying it as stolen money during the investigation.

Gardai have been liaising with Interpol and Europol as part of the operation and have been in contact with investigators globally in Hong Kong, Indonesia, the UK and the Netherlands.

In invoice redirect frauds criminals email businesses pretending to be one of their legitimate suppliers. The emails contain an instruction to change the bank account details that the business has for a legitimate supplier to a bank account set up under a false identify or under a real identity by a money mule working for the crime gang.

Gardai say victims range from small businesses to large corporations and the consequences can be catastrophic and can result in the closure of businesses and redundancies.

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