Scammers prefer banking customers over crypto investors in Ireland: Report

Fraudsters in Ireland prefer targeting traditional banking customers instead of cryptocurrency investors amid a two-year-long bear market.

The frequency of cryptocurrency scams is often directly proportional to the hype and profits around the ecosystem at a given time. It appears that the ongoing crypto bear market has helped eradicate at least some of the bad actors, including scams and businesses, while it has largely retained serious investors who believe in due diligence.

The resultant difficulty in targeting crypto investors has led scammers in Ireland to focus on banking customers. According to the Irish Independent, in 2023, Irish people lost nearly 20 million euros ($21.8 million) to scammers posing as banking officials. A source revealed:

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“In the last few months, what has become more and more common is that victims have been contacted often by phone or by email by fraudsters who are saying they work for legitimate, high-profile British banks or trading houses.”

Fraudsters mimicking traditional banks approach unwary customers through phone calls and emails. The Irish police are currently investigating numerous frauds of a similar nature and have been successful in retrieving 2 million euros ($2.1 million) from one of the scammers.

Irish authorities have recovered approximately 4 million euros of the 20 million euros lost to banking scams since January 2023. Detectives confirmed with the Irish Independent that crypto scams are no longer the dominant form of investment scams despite accounting for 95% of scams at its peak.

Instead of plotting complex crypto scams, fraudsters mimic banking websites and brochures to convince victims to part with their savings. Detectives have identified well over 20 bank accounts in the United Kingdom being used by the fraudsters but are yet to dismantle the operation.

The Bank of Ireland warned customers to be suspicious of banking employees pressurizing them into acting quickly and without thinking — a technique commonly used by scammers to dupe investors.

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Related: Binance users in Hong Kong lose $450K in wave of fraud texts: HK police

While Ireland investigates the rising scams against banking customers, an Australian bank recently claimed that 40% of scams “touch” crypto.

During a panel at the Australian Blockchain Week on June 26, Sophie Gilder, managing director of blockchain and digital assets at Commonwealth Bank, said:

“One in three of the dollars that are scammed from Australians touch crypto, one in three. So it’s the single largest lever that we have to reduce this impact on our customers.”

Nigel Dobson, banking services portfolio lead at ANZ, referred to data from the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange suggesting that the figure may be even higher, at 40%.

Magazine: Beyond crypto: Zero-knowledge proofs show potential from voting to finance

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Author: Arijit Sarkar

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