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28/10/2021

Gardaí warn the people of Donegal in relation to advance fee fraud

Many people are not aware of advance fee fraud

Garda warning about scammers offering pre-Christmas loans for upfront fee

Beware of offers that are too good to be true

As Christmas approaches, An Garda Síochána are working with the Central Bank in a bid to warn members of the public to be aware of Advance Fee Fraud.

Advance fee fraud requires individuals to pay a fee before receiving a promised sum of money which is never paid. Gardaí have noticed an increase in this practice recently with a number of websites offering quick, easy, unsecured loans. The victim is required to fill in a short application that looks for their details.

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Once these details have been submitted a follow up phone call is received from what appears to be an Irish number. The victim is informed via the telephone call that their loan has been approved but they are required to make a payment in advance of the loan being paid into their account.

Reasons for fees can vary but can include:
• Insurance fees
• Set up fees
• First instalment in advance

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The websites used in these scams look professional in nature but there are a number of Red Flags which the public should look out for. These include (but not limited to):
1. The common trend with all these sites is that they offer quick and easy money.
2. No guarantor or security is sought and no checks on the individual’s ability to pay will be made and no documents / proof of ID will be sought.
3. The requirement is that a fee is paid in advance of the service being provided.
4. The fraudster will put pressure on the victim to act quickly or the opportunity will be lost.
5. The company offering the loans is not regulated by the Irish Central Bank. Even though they may claim to be so regulated or will say they don’t need regulation as they are experienced.

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An Garda Síochána would advise the public to:

• Never apply for a loan from an entity that is not authorised by the Central Bank – do your checks in advance of any agreement and before sending any money.

• Always check the official Central Bank website to see if the firm is authorised by the Central Bank. The register of authorised firms can be accessed at http://registers.centralbank.ie/  

• There may also be instances where a firm "clones” the details of an authorised entity by taking the details of an authorised entity and claiming to either be that entity or an associated entity. Further information in respect of unauthorised firms that have already come to the attention of the Central Bank is available on the Central Bank’s website at https://www.centralbank.ie/regulation/how-we-regulate/authorisation/unauthorised-firms but please be warned that there may be scams out there that have not yet come to the attention of the Central Bank.

• Never allow your account to be used by another to move money or to hold money for any period (long or short) as this enables fraudsters to complete their crimes, and deprives innocent victims of their hard earned cash.

• Unfortunately there are no cheap easy loans available in the market and if the offer "sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is too good to be true.”

• Always report the matter to your local garda station.

• Stop and think before engaging.

• Never give away personal data to people you don’t know.

• Always be fraud aware, particularly when you receive an unsolicited phone call, email, text or other communication that leads to a request for personal or banking information.

• Never click on a link in an email, text or other message unless you know the source.

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