Gardaí say jobs could be lost and companies could go bust because so much money is being lost as part of an invoice scam.
There have been 132 incidents so far this year involving businesses, schools and hospitals with losses of €4.4m.
Over €2,270,000 was stolen in April alone.
The email scam involves criminals posing as one of their suppliers so they change their bank details and redirect payments. These requests can also come as a letter or phone call.
In many instances, the business does not know it is a victim of this crime until some time later when the legitimate supplier sends a reminder invoice for payment.
Gardaí say it can be difficult to recover funds once they have left the jurisdiction so prompt reporting once noticed is critical.
“Stop and think before you change bank account details for anyone,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan, of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.
“Ask the question, is this really the person/company you owe money to. Pick up the phone and speak to the person concerned.”
Within the last two months a number of cases were reported to gardaí, including:
A business received an email from a customer requesting that money be transferred to a new account. The email looked like it came from the customer and the money was owed so it was transferred. This led to $1m being transferred to a bank account in Hong Kong. Luckily in this case, this was reported swiftly and in conjunction with the Financial Intelligence Units Worldwide (FIU) in Hong Kong, An Garda Siochana was able to block the movement of this money in an account there and it has been recovered.
More recently another company reports an email redirect fraud to the value of €463,244.48. An email was received posing to be supplier requesting that account details be changed for payment. Payment of above amount then made. The company discovered that the email was bogus. Again, due to prompt reporting, An Garda Siochana in conjunction with the financial institution was able to recover 95% of this money.
Other examples in April 2019 had €123,000 stolen and recovered and a fourth example had around €156,000 stolen. In both these cases, there was prompt reporting and An Garda Siochana was able to stop the money and have it recalled.
Another example of good practice and checks being done by companies is a very recent case where a HR manager reported that a suspect email that was received by payroll and HR department allegedly from the managing director asking to send his pay to new bank details. Staff became suspicious and contacted the managing director and it was noticed that the email was bogus. the email was not sent from the managing director’s official email, it was sent from an email unknown to the company and the managing director. No monies were transferred and there was no economic loss.