Businesses, schools and hospitals have lost almost €4.5m this year through a fraud scam targeting their bank accounts.
Gardaí say 132 cases of invoice re-direct fraud have been reported already this year.
Irish businesses lost nearly €2.3m through the scam last month alone.
Investigators said victims of the fraud range from very small businesses to large corporations – with potentially catastrophic consequences for jobs and the future of the businesses.
Invoice re-direction fraud
Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan said the scam involves criminals contacting you and pretending to be one of your legitimate suppliers.
“The fraudster sends an email, makes a phone call and makes contact with you,” he said.
“It can be in your home or in your business – normally in your business.
“He will tell you that he has changed his bank account details and he is asking you, very nicely, can you change his bank account details on your system.
“When the invoice comes in or when the payment is made the next day, the money goes to the criminal’s bank account.”
He said the victim is often unaware that it has been the victim of a crime until some time later.
Gardaí said the best way to protect your business against the scam is to ensure that you have a known contact person within each of your suppliers who can talk to before making any changes to banking information.
If you do not have a known contact with the supplier, you should always make independent contact with them before changing the details you have on file.
Never use the contact details included with the request to verify it.
Businesses should also ensure that requests of this nature are always dealt with by someone in a supervisory position.
"Stop and think"
“Stop and think before you change bank account details for anyone,” said Superintendent Lordan.
“Ask the question; is this really the person or company you owe money to?
“Pick up the phone and speak to the person concerned.”
Gardaí said they were able to recover nearly €1.3m of money stolen through the scam last month by working with foreign police forces, financial institutions and financial intelligence units.