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Victims of fraud being re-targeted by criminals as investment scams continue to rise

  • Fresh warning issued as fraudsters particularly target people over 50
  • Worrying trend emerging where fraudsters are re-targeting people who have already fallen victim to an investment scam, promising to recover their money


Tuesday 7th May – FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), is issuing a fresh warning to consumers, particularly those over the age of 50, to be on alert as highly convincing investment scams continue to rise, with new cases now emerging of victims of investment fraud being re-targeted by criminals in what is known as ‘recovery scams’.

Describing how fraudsters are catching people out, Niamh Davenport, Head of Financial Crime with BPFI, said: “While investment scams have been circulating for a while, FraudSMART members have noticed a continued and significant increase in the past few months often targeting people over 50 who may be looking for an opportunity to top up their finances ahead of retirement. Fraudsters are using deceptive and elaborate techniques using the names and branding of well-recognised banks and investment firms, with some fraudsters even going so far as to create a ‘copy-cat’ profile on social media of a real employee or ‘agent’ from an investment firm to convince people of their legitimacy.”

Emerging trend of ‘recovery scams’ see victims re-targeted

FraudSMART members have also seen new cases of victims of investment fraud being re-targeted by criminals in what is known as ‘recovery scams’.

Describing these scams, Ms Davenport stated: “We are now seeing a worrying trend emerging where fraudsters are contacting people who have already fallen victim to an investment scam, promising to recover their money but requiring an upfront fee first, sometimes describing it as a ‘retainer fee’ or ‘processing fee’. The recovery scam often comes from the same criminals behind the original investment scam, or else the victim’s personal information has been passed on or sold to other criminals. The fraudster, using the information from the previous scam, can ‘helpfully’ tell the victim about the earlier fraud, which can make them sound credible. There have also been cases where people have been targeted through online and social media ads. Unfortunately, our members have seen cases of these scams ranging from anywhere from €1,000 to €10,000.”

Commenting on what consumers should do, Ms Davenport added: “While banks are using a range of measures to protect customers, fraudsters are increasingly targeting consumers directly and it can have a devastating impact, so it is important for us all to know how to protect ourselves. In particular, be cautious of adverts online and on social media platforms, even if they are paid or sponsored ads using familiar brand or business names. Pause for thought and contact the company independently to verify the details. Don’t trust cold calls, text messages, letters, emails, or messages on social media from someone who says they can recover money you lost in a scam for a fee. This simply isn’t true. If you have transferred money or shared your bank details and realise it might be a scam, report it to your bank and the Gardaí immediately.”

Investment fraud is now the highest grossing crime type in Ireland

The warning comes as recent figures from An Garda Síochána show that almost €60 million was stolen from victims of investment fraud in the past four years and it is now the highest grossing crime type in Ireland.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau stated: “We are continuing to see significant increases in investment scams, which can be very convincing and sophisticated. Recent figures published by An Garda Síochána showed an increase of over 90% in reports of this type of fraud in 2023 and these increases are continuing into 2024. Victims of this type of fraud tend to be over 50 years of age and we would like to advise all members of the public, particularly those over age of 50, to be on alert for these scams, to be wary of offers only advertised through social media or allegedly endorsed by celebrities and if you believe you may be victim of investment fraud to report it to your bank and An Garda Síochána as soon as possible. Always seek professional advice before making any investments and if an offer sounds too good to be true, then unfortunately it probably is.”

Checklist to avoid investment scams:

  1. Take your time: It is important to note that there are very few legitimate investment opportunities that require you to hand over or transfer money immediately.
  2. Research thoroughly: Check the individual and firm for qualifications, credentials, reputation and history.Be wary of brochures that may appear legitimate. Contact the investment firm directly using numbers from their official website or other reputable independent source. The Central Bank Consumer Hub is a good place to start.
  3. Verify the Information: Check all information with a trusted third party such as a legal/financial professional and consult family and close friends.
  4. Check again: If you have made an investment in recent weeks or months it is always worth checking the details again and verify the investment firm’s details through an independent and reputable source.

Checklist to avoid recovery scams

  • If you’ve already fallen victim to an investment scam, be particularly alert.
  • Don’t trust cold calls, text messages, letters, emails, or messages on social media from someone who says they can recover money you lost in a scam for a fee.
  • Never pay a fee for a refund or help with a refund – i.e. never give your bank account, debit/credit card, or other payment information to get a refund.
  • Be very wary about sharing any personal information in relation to your experience as a victim of a scam. A social media post sharing details of being a victim can attract the attention of recovery scammers and lead to being re-targeted.
  • If in any doubt contact your bank and An Garda Síochána.

Today’s warning comes ahead of the launch of a new information leaflet published by FraudSMART at a ‘Spotlight on Investment Scams’ event being held with support from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

Download the FraudSMART Spotlight on Investment Scams information leaflet here and visit for further information and to sign up to alerts.

Sample case of victim of recovery fraud – Martin’s Story*

Martin, who is just ahead of retirement, fell victim to an investment scam after investing €80,000 of his life savings in what he believed was a real investment scheme. He had researched investment opportunities online and through a sponsored search clicked on, what turned out to be, a fake comparison website showing different ‘investment options’, ranging from green bonds, government bonds and other medium term investment opportunities. He input his contact details to a form on the website and an ‘agent’ called him to follow up on his query. Martin was persuaded to make a series of payments to an ‘investment account’ and he received regular emails from the ‘agent’ which appeared to show positive returns. When the final payment was complete all contact from the ‘agent’ ceased and he eventually realised he was a victim of an elaborate scam.

Six months after the initial scam, Martin received a cold call which claimed to be from a ‘refund recovery firm’ and he was told that he could recover the funds he had lost if he paid an ‘administration fee’ of €8,000 (a 10% fee what had been stolen originally), which they promised would be refunded. Martin paid the ‘administration fee’ but several days later he became suspicious when he wasn’t getting any response from the ‘refund recovery firm’ and he contacted his bank An Garda Síochána. His case is currently under investigation.

*The name and some details have been changed to protect the identity of the victim

About FraudSMART: FraudSMART is a fraud awareness initiative developed by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) in conjunction with the following member banks, Allied Irish Bank plc, Bank of Ireland, PTSB, Ulster Bank, An Post Money, Avant Money, Citibank Europe plc, Barclays and Revolut. The programme aims to raise consumer and business awareness of the latest financial fraud activity and trends and provide simple and impartial advice on how best they can protect themselves and their resources.

About BPFI: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland. Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has over 125 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace.