A senior member of An Garda Síochána in Mayo and a district court judge have expressed serious concern about the ease with which online credit card fraud is being carried out following the jailing this week of a Glenisland man for his murky internet dealing.
Superintendent Pat Diskin said gardaí got a glimpse of the “dark side of the internet” when it emerged an IT support worker stumbled across a website where people’s personal information and credit card details were being freely traded and exchanged by hackers.
Thomas Lennon, Monagaurann, Glenisland, came before the court after he used stolen card details to purchase top-of-the-range flatscreen televisions on two separate occasions.
Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser following the court hearing, Supt Diskin warned that credit card fraud is a growing crime.
However, he also said the crime is largely preventable if people take a few simple security measures when using their credit cards.
Supt Diskin said gardaí were “astonished” at the level of information so freely available on the hacking website.
As well as providing stolen credit card details, the website had a list of suggested companies to target because of their security measures.
“This was a website that was purely dedicated to hacking and fraud. It was a fairly elaborate system where people’s personal financial details were being traded and shared for the purposes of fraud,” outlined Supt Diskin.
He said he did not want to promote paranoia when it comes to credit card security but it is clearly very easy for an individual’s details to end up in the hands of hackers.
He advised the public not to become complacent when it comes to protecting their credit card details.
“Keep your card in a safe place at all times. Protect your pin number. Be mindful when doing transactions that someone could actually memorize your 16-digit pin on the front of your card and use it to make transactions,” he advised.
“If you are paying in a shop or a restaurant, never let your card out of your sight. It could be easily cloned in a few moments.
“When shopping online, if there is any element of concern at all regarding the website, do not use it,” added Supt Diskin.
Judge Mary Devins expressed concern that a private individual could access credit card details so easily and that online retailing security measures could be bypassed, seemingly without any difficulty.
Judge Devins said the six-month jail sentence for Lennon reflected the serious nature of what she described as a “modern crime”.