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fraud attack Gardai issue warning to bank customers over 'smishing' scam

A garda spokesperson said the fraud involves criminals sending text messages pretending to be from AIB.

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GARDAI have warned of a worrying surge of “smishing” attacks by fraudsters on Allied Irish Bank customers so far this year.

There was a 132pc increase in the attacks in the first 20 days of the year and gardai say they expect that figure to soar once more people realise they have been scammed.

A garda spokesperson said the fraud involves criminals sending text messages pretending to be from AIB telling customers to click a review or block a fraudulent transaction or advise the person that they have been locked out of their account.

“The text will encourage the person to click on a link and asked to input codes from their Card Reader or divulge their One Time Passcode (OTP). This information is sufficient for the fraudster to access the person’s account and transfer money out,” said the spokesperson.

Gardaí and AIB would like to advise account holders, as follows:

• Never disclose their Registration Number or Personal Access Code (PAC) or card information after clicking a link on a text.

• Never generate codes from their AIB Card Reader to cancel transactions.

• Never divulge their One Time Passcode (OTP) to cancel transactions.

• AIB will never ask you not to log back into your account.

• AIB will never ask you to click on a link.

The spokesperson said if anyone has received such a call or text message and have disclosed any information, they should contact AIB immediately.

AIB customers can find out more information and advice from the bank’s website. Similar frauds may be perpetrated against customers of other banks.

“These frauds cannot occur without the co-operation of people who allow their accounts to be used – so called Money Mules. Acting as a money mule is very serious offence. The offence is contrary to the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act, 2010 and carries a 14 year prison sentence.”

Gardai have warned in recent years how students are increasingly being targeted by criminal gangs to launder money through their banks accounts but have warned those convicted of money laundering face a number of potential penalties including:

• Bank account is closed and bank won’t entertain any new applications

• Potentially carries a prison sentence of 14 years

• Could be on terrorist watch lists

• Won’t get a visa to work in US, Australia, Middle East etc

• Your credit rating in future will be affected

• Difficult to get students loans, ordinary loans, overdrafts and even mortgages

• Could even be difficult getting a phone contract

• Will affect ability to find employment

• Could affect vetting applications especially if wanting to work with charities, sports clubs, any job with responsibility

• You are helping international criminal organisations to commit other crimes, such as terrorism financing, people smuggling, trafficking of humans, drug trafficking and even wars.

The garda spokesperson wared against anyone allowing their bank receive money for fraudsters but if they do to contact gardai.

“Do not withdraw or transfer any money that is lodged. It is stolen money and by doing so you are committing Money Laundering. Tell your parents, teacher; report it to your Bank and Gardaí. If you act as a money mule you will be arrested. It’s your name, your ID what was used to open the account. Your card used to withdraw / transfer the money. It may even be your face on the CCTV withdrawing the money.”

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