Hunt down 17 Irish suspects believed to have used specialist website to commit €115m fraud worldwide

GARDAI is chasing down 17 Irish suspects believed to have used a specialized website to commit €115 million in worldwide scams.

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau tracks down the scammers as part of Operation Elaborate.

Gardai are looking for 17 suspects as part of the investigation (archive image)


Gardai are looking for 17 suspects as part of the investigation (archive image)Photo credit: Getty Images – Getty

The investigation, which also includes Europol, the FBI and the UK’s Metropolitan Police, was launched to target scammers who pay to use the website.

Used by 21,000 scammers around the world, the site works by allowing scammers to make calls or send SMS from “fake” numbers that appear to be real phone numbers.

The numbers used were bank fraud lines, the HSE, the Gardai, corporations and delivery companies.

Once victims pressed a number or link, scammers would gain access to their personal information and steal cash from their accounts.

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Some of their victims of the multi-million euro scam are based in Ireland and are said to have lost millions.

We can also reveal that some of the suspects were previously unknown to Gardai, while others have been identified here as part of Operation Skein and other fraud investigations.

Seventeen residential properties in Dublin, Louth and Meath were searched after the global crackdown on scammers began.

Six arrests were also made, including a number of existing warrants and also for “obstructing Gardai” when individuals refused to give out the passwords to their mobile devices.

Most read in The Irish Sun

Investigators also seized 132 electronic devices, which are now being analyzed to identify links to organized fraud gangs operating outside Ireland.

Officials also identified 64 suspicious accounts as part of the investigation.

About 142 arrests were made as part of the worldwide crackdown.
In the 12 months ending August this year, tens of millions of fake calls were made from the site.

Research also showed how the site had made €3.7 million in 16 months

The website now has a message stating “This domain has been seized by law enforcement”.

The investigation was conducted in Ireland by Det Insp Mel Smyth, Det Supt Michael Cryan and Det Chief Supt Pat Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.

Deputy Commissioner for Organized and Serious Crime Paul Cleary said: “A Garda Siochana working with our international law enforcement partners plays our role in countering and denigrating the activities of organized crime groups.

“Activities earlier this month mark the start of a significant investigation being led by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau which will bring those involved in these criminal activities in that jurisdiction before the courts in Ireland.”

Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director of Europol, said: “Cybercriminals can no longer hide behind perceived international anonymity.

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“Together with our international partners, we will continue to tirelessly push the boundaries to bring criminals to justice.”

Other countries involved in the global operation were Canada, Germany, Ukraine, Lithuania, Australia, France and the Netherlands.

Deputy Organized and Serious Crime Commissioner Paul Cleary


Deputy Organized and Serious Crime Commissioner Paul ClearyPhoto credit: Crispin Rodwell – The Sun Dublin Hunt down 17 Irish suspects believed to have used specialist website to commit €115m fraud worldwide

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