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Invoice redirection fraud in Covid-19 Ventilator supply

Friday 26th June, 2020

An 18-year-old has been arrested by gardai investigating a Covid-19 redirect fraud in which a company was defrauded out of more than €35,000 when it tried to buy life-saving ventilators.

He is suspected of making "direct financial profit" from the scam, and sources said he has had access to the diverted funds, which were directed to his bank account as part of an international criminal conspiracy.

Fraud squad detectives were contacted by Europol earlier this month after it emerged that a Swedish company became the victim of the fraud after it tried to buy ventilators from a legitimate English supplier.

Invoice redirection fraud happens when a business falls prey to requests, purporting to come from trusted suppliers and in the case of external fraud, are sometimes tricked into believing that a beneficiary's bank account details have been changed.

As a result, funds that are due to be paid out are transferred to a fraudulent account.

Sources said there has been an increase in this type of crime across Europe since the Covid-19 outbreak. In the past year, gardai have made a number of arrests of organised criminals who are suspected of being directly involved in invoice redirection frauds, a crime that has cost Irish companies millions.

Last month, Irish firms were warned by the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland to watch out for supplier and invoice scams during the global pandemic.