Fraud offences increase by 72% this year driven by bank scams and card transactions

This year has seen a massive increase in the number of fraud incidents reported to gardaí, a trend driven largely by bank scams and unauthorised card transactions.

Fraud was up by 72 per cent in the 12 months to September 2021, compared with the previous 12-month period.

Quarter three of 2021 set a record for reported fraud incidents. Between July and September, 4,171 incidents were reported, more than double the amount reported in quarter three of 2020.

This was the highest quarterly total for fraud incidents since the Central Statistics Office (CSO) began compiling crime statistics in 2006.

Most other crime categories have seen a decrease this year. This is particularly the case for homicide offences (including murder, manslaughter and dangerous driving causing death).

Overall, homicides decreased by 49 per cent (from 82 to 42) in the annualised figures up to September 2021. This includes a 32 per cent decrease in murders, which went from 37 in the previous annual period to 25 this year.

However, sexual offending continued to rise this year, with 3,306 offences reported in the 12-month period up to September, a 9 per cent increase on the previous period and a 20 per cent increase since 2017.

While assaults and similar offences have fallen over the 12-month period, by 4.1 per cent, there was a spike in such incidents during quarter three of this year, which particularly affected younger men and older women.

There was an 11 per cent increase in assault-type offences in quarter three, compared with quarter three of 2020. Offences with a male victim aged 18 to 29 increased by 34 per cent to 896 incidents and offences against women over 60 increased by 68 per cent to 126 incidents.

Burglaries were down 36 per cent, thefts 20 per cent and robberies 18 per cent on an annual basis.

The CSO advised that the impact of Covid-19 restrictions during that period should be considered when looking at the figures.

It also reported that gardaí recorded 516 offences relating to breaches of Covid-19 regulations in quarter three of 2021. This figure was significantly lower that those recorded in any other quarter since restrictions were introduced. The CSO said this reflects “the relatively low level of Covid-19 restrictions compared to earlier quarters”.

Cancelled 999 calls
The improper cancellation of 999 calls by gardaí on the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, which resulted in some incidents not being recorded on the Pulse system, may have impacted the recording of crime statistics, the CSO warned.

“The CSO is awaiting clarification on the full impact of the issue from [the Garda], including the time periods involved [how far back this issue goes], the crime types impacted and, crucially, the estimated numbers of crimes which were not recorded on Pulse due to inappropriate cancellation of CAD calls, before it can determine the impact on recorded crime statistics,” CSO statistician Sam Scriven said.

CSO crime statistics continue to be published with the “under reservation” caveat. This caveat was first introduced following a Garda Inspectorate report in 2014 which found serious issues with how crime statistics were being recorded by gardaí.

“The statistics under reservation categorisation will remain in place until such time as the CSO is satisfied that the level of accuracy and completeness of the underlying data is of sufficient quality,” the CSO states on its website.