Be Fraud Aware

Warning! Investment scams continue to rise and victims are being re-targeted by criminals

Fresh warning issued as fraudsters particularly target people over 50
Worrying trend emerging where fraudsters are re-targeting people who have already fallen victim to an investment scam, promising to recover their money

While investment scams have been circulating for a while, FraudSMART members have noticed a continued and significant increase in the past few months often targeting people over 50 who may be looking for an opportunity to top up their finances ahead of retirement. Fraudsters are using deceptive and elaborate techniques using the names and branding of well-recognised banks and investment firms, with some fraudsters even going so far as to create a ‘copy-cat’ profile on social media of a real employee or ‘agent’ from an investment firm to convince people of their legitimacy.

Emerging trend of ‘recovery scams’ see victims re-targeted

We are now also seeing a worrying trend emerging where fraudsters are contacting people who have already fallen victim to an investment scam, promising to recover their money but requiring an upfront fee first, sometimes describing it as a ‘retainer fee’ or ‘processing fee’. The recovery scam often comes from the same criminals behind the original investment scam, or else the victim’s personal information has been passed on or sold to other criminals. The fraudster, using the information from the previous scam, can ‘helpfully’ tell the victim about the earlier fraud, which can make them sound credible. There have also been cases where people have been targeted through online and social media ads. Unfortunately, our members have seen cases of these scams ranging from anywhere from €1,000 to €10,000.

Investment fraud is now the highest grossing crime type in Ireland

This warning comes as recent figures from An Garda Síochána show that almost €60 million was stolen from victims of investment fraud in the past four years and it is now the highest grossing crime type in Ireland.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau stated: “We are continuing to see significant increases in investment scams, which can be very convincing and sophisticated. Recent figures published by An Garda Síochána showed an increase of over 90% in reports of this type of fraud in 2023 and these increases are continuing into 2024. Victims of this type of fraud tend to be over 50 years of age and we would like to advise all members of the public, particularly those over age of 50, to be on alert for these scams, to be wary of offers only advertised through social media or allegedly endorsed by celebrities and if you believe you may be victim of investment fraud to report it to your bank and An Garda Síochána as soon as possible. Always seek professional advice before making any investments and if an offer sounds too good to be true, then unfortunately it probably is.”


Checklist to avoid investment scams:

  • Take your time: It is important to note that there are very few legitimate investment opportunities that require you to hand over or transfer money immediately.
  • Research thoroughly: Check the individual and firm for qualifications, credentials, reputation and history. Be wary of brochures that may appear legitimate. Contact the investment firm directly using numbers from their official website or other reputable independent source. The Central Bank Consumer Hub is a good place to start.
  • Verify the Information: Check all information with a trusted third party such as a legal/financial professional and consult family and close friends.
  • Check again: If you have made an investment in recent weeks or months it is always worth checking the details again and verify the investment firms details through an independent and reputable source.


Checklist to avoid recovery scams:

  • If you’ve already fallen victim to an investment scam, be particularly alert.
  • Don’t trust cold calls, text messages, letters, emails, or messages on social media from someone who says they can recover money you lost in a scam for a fee.
  • Never pay a fee for a refund or help with a refund – i.e. never give your bank account, debit/credit card, or other payment information to get a refund.
  • Be very wary about sharing any personal information in relation to your experience as a victim of a scam. A social media post sharing details of being a victim can attract the attention of recovery scammers and lead to being re-targeted.

If in any doubt contact your bank and An Garda Síochána.


Martin’s Story*

Martin, who is just ahead of retirement, fell victim to an investment scam after investing €80,000.00 of his life savings in what he believed was a real investment scheme. He had researched investment opportunities online and through a sponsored search clicked on, what turned out to be, a fake comparison website showing different ‘investment options’, ranging from green bonds, government bonds and other medium term investment opportunities. He input his contact details to a form on the website and an ‘agent’ called him to follow up on his query. Martin was persuaded to make a series of payments to an ‘investment account’ and he received regular emails from the ‘agent’ which appeared to show positive returns. When the final payment was complete all contact from the ‘agent’ ceased and he eventually realised he was a victim of an elaborate scam.

Six months after the initial scam, Martin received a cold call which claimed to be from a ‘refund recovery firm’ and he was told that he could recover the funds he had lost if he paid an ‘administration fee’ of €8,000 (a 10% fee what had been stolen originally), which they promised would be refunded. Martin paid the ‘administration fee’ but several days later he became suspicious when he wasn’t getting any response from the ‘refund recovery firm’ he contacted his bank and An Garda Síochána. His case is currently under investigation.

*The name and some details have been changed to protect the identity of the victim

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