How gardaí uncovered a massive fraud network based in Ireland

Just under two years ago gardaí became inundated with requests for assistance from police forces in Europe all telling a similar story. Somebody in a European country had made a purchase online – from a luxury watch to a caravan, tractor or classic car – but they had not received the goods or vehicle they had paid for.

In each case the money had left the purchaser’s bank account and had ended up in an account in the Republic. The requests to track the money became so frequent that a special team was established in the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau to investigate what was going on.

The team of investigators, under Det Supt Michael Cryan, quickly determined that a Romanian international crime gang had set up shop in Ireland about a year earlier and was targeting victims in Ireland and across Europe.

They were offering non-existent vehicles and goods for sale at attractive prices that generated plenty of sales. Since October 2018, when the Garda investigation began, gardaí have established that at least 126 Romanian nationals physically present in the Republic have taken an active part in the gang’s activities.

At least 71 of the 126 people have opened back accounts in the State since 2017 using a total of 189 false identifications. This has included passports and driver’s licences supported by forged utility bills or insurance policies to provide proof of address to banks.

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