Gardaí issued a stern warning to public warning of fraudsters who demand advance payments in exchange for “quick, easy and unsecured loans”.
The advanced fee scam involves people paying up front by promising a sum of money in return, which is not paid.
Gardaí has noticed an increase in this type of fraud, which begins by forcing victims to fill out online forms from websites offering “quick, easy, unsecured loans”.
A follow-up phone call is then made to the victim, from an Irish number, where they are told they need to pay an advance on the loan for insurance purposes, set-up costs or a first installment in advance.
Ahead of the holiday season, Gardaí reported that while these “scams appear professional in nature”, there are several red flags.
These include: quick and easy money offers; no guarantor or deposit is required, as well as no identity document; obligation to pay a fee in advance; pressure that the loan opportunity may be lost and that the company is not regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
A Garda spokesperson said that if a loan “seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is too good to be true”.
The force advises not to apply for a loan from any entity not regulated by the Central Bank and to check the website to see if it is authorized.
He also warned that a company can “clone” an authorized entity’s details by taking the details of an authorized entity and claiming to be either that entity or an associated entity.
Customers should not allow their accounts to be used to move or withhold money for any period of time and issues should be reported to a local custody station.
“Unfortunately, there are no easy and cheap loans available in the market,” the spokesperson said.
“Always be aware of fraud, especially when you receive an unsolicited phone call, email, text or other communication that leads to a request for personal or banking information,” they added.