New agency helps tackle €310m-a-year fraud
Wednesday, September 26th 2007
Social welfare fraud is estimated to cost another €400m with a further €200m detected and prevented, according to the head of the new Irish Fraud Bureau.
This means the total cost of fraud in Ireland amounts to €900m a year.
Launching the Irish Fraud Bureau yesterday, Justice Minister Brian Lenihan said there were 10,500 suspicious transactions reported by financial institutions last year. Some 98 people were charged and 82 convictions secured in 2006 with a combined total value of €2.5m.
The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation currently has in excess of 200 cases of fraud under investigation, some with an international dimension, the minister said. He stressed that fraud is not a victimless crime -- both consumers and financial institutions were impacted by it.
And the minister called on financial companies to ensure they report fraud, instead of trying to protect their reputations by keeping quiet when they are targeted by fraudsters.
The new Irish Fraud Bureau (IFB) has been set up by judgement search agency BusinessPro (the publisher of Stubbs Gazette). It aims to allow member firms to share information on fraudsters and their activities. Managing director of BusinessPro James Treacy said: "Up to now, lenders have had no opportunity to share information on fraud risk or alert other institutions to the danger signs. Most fraudulent activity has gone unreported."
The new bureau will allow members to exchange information on financial crimes detected by their monitoring processes.
These crimes include credit card fraud, identity theft, loan fraud, or false insurance claims.
Mr Treacy said IFB members will be able to swap details on innocent victims of fraud to protect them from further fraud. Consumers will have to give their consent for information to be used by the IFB.
Only members of the fraud bureau will be able to see warnings and they must be careful to establish the validity of any application for a product or service made from the address, according to IFB boss Greg Connell.
Any member of the bureau that receives a warning from the system when checking an application or account will not be allowed to automatically refuse to supply the product or service because of the warning.
"They are required to make further enquiries to confirm personal identification details before making a decision," Mr Connell said.
He said that the easy access provided by the internet brings some entirely new and unwelcome risks from cyber cheats.
"The biggest risks are that personal data will be stolen, corrupted, or misused by an internet intruder stealing or tampering with your information; all the time hiding their unauthorised activity."