The activities of a criminal gang which attempted to steal more than €1.3 million from charities and businesses in just one month has been thwarted by gardai when a major operation, involving the searching of properties in Galway, resulted in the arrest of three suspects.
According to gardai an investigation was established by the Cheque and Payment Card Unit, Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, and a search operation was put in place on the morning of October 13 last at suspected addresses in Drogheda and Galway. It is believed that fraud squad detectives, supported by local gardai, carried out searches at properties in the Headford Road/Ballindooley area of the city. At both locations gardai recovered pieces of equipment used to manufacture counterfeit credit cards and to get bank details. At the Drogheda address, detectives also found forged documentation used to perpetrate a number of fraud offences, and numerous business cheques and cheque books which are thought to have been stolen from the postal system in Ireland and the UK.
During the past five months commercial customers of banks nationwide have been targeted by the criminal gang who attempted to transact the fraudulent transfer abroad of money from business accounts. The action taken by investigating gardai assisted in the recovery of €160,000 taken from the account of a well known charity and also prevented attempts to steal in the region of €1.3 million during the month of September alone.
Three alleged gang members, all Zimbabwean nationals, were arrested in Drogheda (a 32-year-old male and a 28-year-old female ) and in Galway (a 34-year-old male ). They were detained at Drogheda and Balbriggan Garda stations under the provisions of Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007.
At Drogheda District Court last Friday the 32-year-old man was charged with fraud, possession of counterfeiting equipment, handling stolen property, theft, and attempted theft. The other two people arrested were released without charge pending a file being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.