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“Gangs Exploit Victims of Investment Fraud, Extorting Money”

Dublin: The Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland has issued a stark warning regarding a resurgence in investment fraud, cautioning the public against fraudsters who exploit victims through deceptive promises of returning lost funds.

According to the FraudSmart Campaign, fraudsters are now employing “recovery scams,” primarily targeting individuals aged 50 and above. The incidence of such scams is on the rise, with approximately €60 million stolen from investment fraud victims over the past four years.

In a recent incident, a victim who lost €80,000 in an investment scheme scam was contacted by a “refund recovery firm” six months later, purportedly to return the lost funds. Shockingly, an additional €8,000 was deceitfully extracted as an administration fee.

Fraudsters typically adopt the guise of reputable banks and investment institutions, leveraging their names and brands to lure victims with promises of recovering lost funds. Victims are often instructed to pay upfront “processing” fees for these supposed recovery services. These fraudsters exploit online and social media platforms for advertising, and victims are coerced into paying extortionate amounts ranging from €1,000 to €10,000.

The individuals orchestrating these scams are often the same criminals responsible for the initial investment fraud, utilising information provided by victims to target them again. Niamh Davenport, head of the BPFI’s financial crime unit, emphasised the importance of promptly contacting the original organisation if approached by such individuals and exercising caution with calls, messages, emails, and social media communications.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau noted a concerning uptick in investment fraud cases, with a surge of over 90% recorded in 2023, and this trend persists into the current year. He stressed the necessity of seeking professional advice before engaging in any investment ventures to safeguard against falling victim to such scams.

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