Gardaí have urged victims of fraud not to be embarrassed in coming forward.

Identity fraud messages ‘rampant’ in Cork

At Monday’s Joint Policing Committee meeting for Cork county, Chief Supt Vincent O'Sullivan of the Cork North and West Garda Divisions appealed to the public to put embarrassment aside and to report all instances of fraud to gardaí.

He said people across the county are falling victim to phishing (fraudulent emails), vishing (fraudulent phone calls), and smishing (fraudulent text messages).

“The more people we know that have been targeted by fraudsters, the better and more effective we can be in taking them on and stopping them,” said Chief Supt O'Sullivan.

According to the most recent garda figures, 40% of victims of fraud in Cork county are aged between 41 and 60, with 27% aged over 67.

Chief Supt O'Sullivan said a common smishing scam at the moment involves a text message claiming to be the target’s child saying they have broken or lost their phone and need the target to send money to a friend’s bank account.

“That's a text message that is rampant at the moment,” he said.

Both Cork North and West divisions experienced record numbers of incidents of fraud/economic crime between 1 January and 3 September in 2022 with 250 and 187 reported respectively.

In the same period this year, Cork North reported 194 incidents, while Cork West recorded 187.

Chief Supt O'Sullivan said the drop-off in numbers is largely due to people being more aware of the dangers of the different types of identity fraud.

Bantry local representative Danny Crowley (FF) said: “A lot of the time when people do get caught, they feel very embarrassed. They say, 'Well, how did I fall for that?', but it does happen out there.”

Fianna Fáil County Councillor Gearoid Murphy said he has personally noticed a substantial increase in fraudulent text messages, Facebook messages, and emails over the last number of months.

“It really is a major issue. I'm sure everyone is getting these messages but it's those who may not be as digitally literate that can be in a more vulnerable position,” Councillor Murphy said.