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Phone scam gang diversifies into violent burglaries

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 26/09/2021 Debbie McCann
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An international crime gang that has raked in millions from phishing scams in Ireland and all across the world is believed to be behind a spate of recent violent burglaries here.

The gang – made up of criminals from Nigeria, Ireland, Romania and Italy – were targeted in raids in Kildare and north Co. Dublin this week.

A senior source said they were primarily involved in phishing scams and invoice redirection fraud.

a close up of a book: An international crime gang that has raked in millions from phishing scams in Ireland and all across the world is believed to be behind a spate of recent violent burglaries here. Pic: REX Features © Provided by Extra.ie An international crime gang that has raked in millions from phishing scams in Ireland and all across the world is believed to be behind a spate of recent violent burglaries here. Pic: REX Features

However, the criminals have now ‘diversified’ and funds raised have been used for other forms of serious organised crime including aggravated burglaries and drug dealing.

‘The gang involved is also big into drugs and aggravated burglaries. Criminals like to diversify, it’s all about making easy money,’ the source said.

Gang members, based in the Midlands and Dublin, have carried out aggravated burglaries on the homes of drug dealers where they know there is easy cash. A source said: ‘A Meath man is running this part of the gang’s activities and he is working closely with Nigerian men based in Blanchardstown.’

a man wearing a hat: ‘The gang involved is also big into drugs and aggravated burglaries. Criminals like to diversify, it’s all about making easy money,’ the source said. Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins © Provided by Extra.ie ‘The gang involved is also big into drugs and aggravated burglaries. Criminals like to diversify, it’s all about making easy money,’ the source said. Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins

‘The gang gets addicts to pay in advance for drugs so no physical money changes hands and the person is told where and when the drugs are going to be left. That way they are not caught in a deal.’

Gardaí also learned the organised crime gang is luring young people in by getting them to act as money mules in exchange for having their debts wiped.

‘A lot of young people are caught up in assisting the gang. Sometimes over debts for drugs or to help them pay off credit cards,’ said a source. ‘They get drug addicts, homeless people and students to allow them use their bank accounts to put money through. Revolut is used quite a bit.’

a man wearing a blue hat: Gang members, based in the Midlands and Dublin, have carried out aggravated burglaries on the homes of drug dealers where they know there is easy cash. © Provided by Extra.ie Gang members, based in the Midlands and Dublin, have carried out aggravated burglaries on the homes of drug dealers where they know there is easy cash.

‘There is a specific operation ongoing into this gang and gardaí are aware of millions of euro from across Europe going through Irish accounts.’

Gardaí from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, alongside local officers, were involved in the searches around the country this week.

Raids were carried out as part of Operation Skein in Kildare, Naas and Balbriggan on Thursday. Around 100 arrests have been made to date.

A Garda spokesman previously said: ‘It is estimated this criminal organisation have stolen over €18m worldwide with the vast majority laundered through bank accounts in Ireland.’

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