Tuesday, 30 June 2020


There is always a danger of sending money up front for any goods or service. Be careful when you are dealing with someone you don't know and check out what safeguards are in place if you are going through a third party online booking service. Click here to read a story from the Sunday Independent to see how fraudsters set up a scam to sting would-be holidaymakers out of their cash

Monday, 29 June 2020

PHONE prats

Direct marketing millionaires Gavin and Iain McConnon have been rubbing people up the wrong way in Australia. The 4 Wise Monkeys blogged about them here last month. A few years back they annoyed a bunch of people in Ireland by getting them to call premium rate phone numbers to collect an "overseas" parcel of rubbish. Read what I wrote back in April 2004.
Australia is very popular with the young Irish, but we could be in danger of wearing out our welcome. Last August a group of Irish traveller traders from Rathkeale made hundreds of thousands of Aussie bucks selling dodgy generators at vastly inflated prices. Members of the Bishop O'Brien clan sparked nationwide warnings from fair trading officials. Read all about it here.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

CHEQUE mates

I was fortunate enough yesterday to get a slot on 2FM's Gerry Ryan show yesterday morning with his stand-in presenter Eoin Sweeney. One of the issues that a number of people contacted the show about was the level of cheque fraud. A lot of Irish people have been caught out by fraudsters using fake money drafts. Usually they are contacted about an item for sale on a website. The fraudster offers the seller a cheque for more than the asking price with the request that the excess be wired to their 'shipping agent.' It can take up to ten days for the bank to clear a money draft event though it is immediately credited to their account. Unfortunately people may not be aware of this and wire the 'excess' cash only to later find the cheque was bogus and the buyer has disappeared. Another version of the scam involves the fraudsters advertising some big ticket item like a car for an unbelievably low price. They'll spin a story to interested buyers such as: "My brother loved that car before he died of cancer. I just want to get rid of it- too many memories." But then because they have been let down by other buyers they want a small deposit up front ... Cue the disappearing act.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

FAKE job

I did my best to get the job. After all, who wouldn't want to earn to earn €34,500 a month?
The original email suggested a genuine UK company was interested in recruiting people to earn money as 'remote' workers. 'Williamspowell' took the call. In reality this is a classic 419 scam, where all they are interested in is getting your personal details and and a fee up front. The practice of winding up the fraudulent emailers is known as 'scambaiting.' Give Willy a call on 00447883152815 and ask about one of those great jobs.

Monday, 22 June 2020

REAL cost of Vat fraud

I got an email from a reader who suggests that the real cost of VAT fraud is not being recovered by the authorities or made widely known to the tax-paying public. In relation to Craig Johnson, who has been ordered to pay back st£26 million, it is suggested he actually personally benefited to the tune of st£167 million from Carousel VAT fraud. That mirrors the experience with Ireland's most notorious VAT fraudster Dylan Creavan. He paid back st£18.5 million in a deal hammered out with the UK's Assets Recovery Agency and Ireland's Criminal Assets Bureau. Creavan was originally charged with fraud totalling st£240 million after his company carried out transactions worth (on paper) €1.6 billion. Obviously investigators have to draw a line under their operations at some point leaving the fraudsters with hidden caches of money. While Creavan spent a year on remand before being acquitted of fraud, Johnson is serving 12.5 years behind bars.

Friday, 19 June 2020


The Cheerleading Federation of Ireland accidentally sparked a brief fraud scare at EU headquarters earlier this year. Aware that bogus firms and organisations were registering as lobbyists to claim credibility, officials were curious when the outfit appeared on the register. It claimed to have spent €50,000 lobbying the EU on cheerleading policy. The cheerleaders' listing came not long after a series of bogus Italian organisations were registered in a bid to boost their image. Read the full story here. When asked about the listing the cheerleaders organiser Hayden McGurk thought by signing up it might help the non-profit organisation qualify for grant aid. ''I swear it wasn't a scam or anything,'' he told the EU Observer.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

BOGUS job offers

Phishing and advance fee fraudsters are posing as recruitment consultants or offering loans to get personal information. One mail from Roger Loans offers to lend up to €500,000 after going through a loan application. This week another spam email came offering up €550 a week for just two to three hours work as a 'remote assistant.' It might sound vaguely plausible but it is a scam. If they don't ask for money up front for a registration fee then they'll use your personal details to try and access your bank account or apply for credit in your name. Some of these con-artists are also placing ads on popular websites offerıng their services as if they are a genuine company.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

FAKE car-parts

One good thing about the recession, if you have the cash, are the number of high-end cars up for sale at knock down prices. What´s not so good is that counterfeiters have been active in the car trade for a long time. When times are bad the back market always kicks in. İndustry estimates put the global counterfeit car-parts business to be worth US$16 billion a year. Many of these are manufactured in the far-east and packaged as being from mainstream suppliers and can easily find their way into the market place through gullible buyers and unscrupulous distributors. Although second and third world markets have been the main targets, there have been cases in the European Union. İn 2005 French investigators seized a US$1.8 million stash of Taiwanese made fake car parts branded as Renault, Citreon and Peugeot. The parts included rear-view mirrors, wing mirrors and headlights. İn other cases critical safety features such as airbags and brake pads (made with compressed grass) have been found.

Friday, 12 June 2020

EXCUTİVE fugitives

The credit crunch has left more than a few con-artists on the run. But former company executives don´t make great fugitives. Click here for an interesting story. İn İreland Noel Fitzpatrick set up a fake company called Terrintech and then sold a pension scheme to its non-existent employees to claim commissions from two financial companies. He went on the run to Uganda when the scheme unravelled but was arrested on his subsequent return to İreland when he thought he´d been forgotten about. Broker Stephen Pearson fled Cork to Dublin where made a suicide attempt in a hotel room after his ponzi scheme went belly up, staying on the run for about three days. The best of the executive fugitives then has to be Michael Lynn who made €80 million from mortgage frauds. But the warrant out for his arrest ıs only from a civil court and has no authority abroad. İf the criminal case ever gets underway, Lynn´s fugitive skills will be properly tested.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

SERİAL Fraudster

Terry Kirby featured in The Fraudsters. He has regularly posed as a professional jockey to carry out rip-offs. He has stung all sorts of people, from individuals he met in bars to horse owners who believed him to be a well known jockey. Since his release from jail last year Kirby went back to his old trıcks. He took a jeep from a stable yard in Kildare and then sold off the charity fundraising calendars he found in the back. Sentenced and jailed again he then walked out of an open prison and spent a week on the run. Not surprisingly he is now facing new fraud-related charges.

Monday, 8 June 2020


Identity theft is a term used to refer to a fraud that involves stealing money or getting other benefits by pretending to be someone else. İf you are that someone else it can be a real pain. The most obvious form of ID theft is when your credit card is skimmed and a copy of it is then used to buy goods that are easily converted into cash. Store cards are another favourite of ID thieves who use an identity to set up an account and then run up debts. It really gets tricky when someone uses an identity to take out a car loan or even a mortgage. There can be problems when it comes to persuading fıfinancial institutions that an imposter has taken out the loan. If you feel that you could be a target of İD theft for any reason then contact your bank, credit card company or credit union and tell them. You can also request a credit check on yourself from credit checking agencies such as Experian or the Irish Credit Bureau. If you are a single person sharing a house or flat then make sure no-one else is getting your mail, especially if you are going off backpacking for two months. Things like your date of birth, mother's maiden name, your social insurance number, bank account details are all useful to a fraudster - so don't put them on Facebook. To be really effective an ID thief needs to change your address to somewhere they can get your mail, so follow up if the usual monthly statement stops arriving. If it does happen, don't panic. Keep careful records of everything connected with the fraud and report it to the police as well as getting the financial institution involved. The National Consumer Agency and the Financial Regulator have good advice as well.

Friday, 5 June 2020

MORE holiday scams

Going shopping and looking for bargains is normal tourist behaviour. Just remember that watches, camcorders, DVDs, cameras, memory cards, games and much more are easily counterfeited. There's a huge global network shipping the stuff all over the world. The hawker in Lanzarote is selling the same stuff that's up for grabs on Times Square in New York. Expect the sales pitch: "These are made in the same factory where they make the real thing. They're just seconds." Watch out as well for fake sun-tan lotion - it may not offer any skin protection at all, while a cheap pair of sun-glasses will always have the sticker claiming it to have UV protection. The real designer glasses don't have those stickers. If you insist on buying the counterfeit stuff then pay cash - your credit card will almost certainly be skimmed before you get home. Relax and enjoy the holiday but don't leave your common-sense at the airport.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

WHERE'S the craic?

Vat fraudster Craig Johnson got 12 years his part in a st£138 million swindle and now his assets are up for auction. Later this month his house and collection of fast cars are going under the hammer along with lots of other stuff associated with the high-life. The car-reg CRA 1C is also up for grabs. Maybe Ireland's most successful Vat fraudster Dylan 'Hollywood' Creavan (pictured), who forked out €26 million in a deal with the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Assets Recovery Agency, might put in a bid. It would make up for his race horses which CAB sold off.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020


Lying on the beach soaking up the sun, chilled out and relaxed - tourists are a prime target for con-artists. In recent years various countries have clamped down on time-sharing scams while people are also more wary of the schemes. Instead this year, you'll get a free scratch card and you'll win holiday. The only catch is, as the very friendly person who approached you will say, is that you have to go to a presentation. There will be food and drink, and a slick sales pitch to join a 'holiday club' that goes on for hours. It will be in a location well away from your hotel and there'll be no taxis. Eventually, reassured that it's a sound investment, you'll sign up to the holiday club. But it's a scam - the contract will be completely different to the sales pitch. Save some time and don't even bother accepting the scratch card. Remember if a deal is too good to be true, then it isn't and always be wary of people who approach you first.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

EURO fraud

IT'S good to see the European Union is still a cash cow for fraudsters everywhere. The EU's anti-fraud office (OLAF) celebrated it's 10th birthday yesterday. Today, however, Bulgarian prosecutors said they have launched probes into "several hundred" suspected fraud cases involving EU farm subsidies. It seems that a number of farmers exaggerated the size of their farms when Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007. The amazing shrinking farms of Bulgaria can now join Ireland's 600,000 ghost-sheep, the non-existent olive groves in Greece and the imported 'Parma' ham in Italy. The European Commission last year froze €825 million worth of aid to Bulgaria over fears of fraud and eventually cut it by €220 million
My previous experience of a Bulgarian fraud involved a street currency seller who counted out €10 worth of Lev in front of me, but then palmed off a wad folded paper in a superb demonstration of the scam. It was a cheap lesson.