Cyber Crime and Community Alert

For the past thirty years or so in Community Alert, we focused our attention to physical risks, criminal and other’s. However, now, every home has a computer connected to the internet, every pocket and handbag contains a smartphone. Every community has evening and day courses available to introduce people to computers, especially the retired. 

Golden Rule – When you purchase a new computer install a top class anti-virus program immediately.                   

Because for some criminal’s a huge new opportunity with minimal personal risk has developed.   No need to break and enter, we are all on-line. Community Alert groups can and should help put a stop to this kind of fraud by learning about these swindles and discussing with others at local meetings about the risks and pitfalls of the internet. Therefore, at District and Local meetings highlight an item on Cyber Crime.

Money in the world today is electronic, less than 1pc of all the money in the world today is physical notes and coins. 99% of the money in the world is really just numbers on computers. Electronic cyber-crime is the future, it happens under our nose, it doesn’t crash our system but it is there to pick our pockets.

Frequently at Community Alert meeting I listen to people have received emails from phishers pretending to be from their bank, asking to confirm  bank details, why because Cyber thieves need our password in order to access our bank accounts and credit cards,

Even a scam email in Irish claiming to be from the Revenue Commissioners has been discovered, the fake messages claimed that, following a tax assessment for last year, the recipient was due a tax rebate. A link in the message directed the person to a site that appeared to be the Revenue Commissioners page, but was actually intended to trick people into giving away their banking details.

Golden Rule – Never EVER give any information about banking passwords.

We hear frequently of people being phoned by hackers who tell them a problem has been identified with their computer, and  try to extort cash in payment for “repairs” they then get them to download a virus, which opens the home’s computer up to all kinds of attacks.

Be-Alert also of fake, booking confirmation emails that cyber-criminals are sending out at random. The objective is to infect your computer with a Trojan that can gather logins, passwords and credit card details. 62% of Irish internet users book their holiday destinations and accommodation online, and Cyber-criminals appear to be capitalising onto this trend.

Booking a holiday and hotel online is perfectly safe and secure, cyber-criminals cannot easily break into that, so instead,

They are attempting to trick you into believing their spam email is a receipt for a booking you may have made. The spam emails are purely random but with so many booking holidays online at this time of year, the criminals have realised their spam will reach many people who have recently completed a legitimate holiday booking.”

Scam sites also use another tactic, designed to trick people into lowering their guard and clicking on a link or giving away passwords, by including Irish translations or appearing to be an Irish site. There is no guarantee that forwarding money will ensure delivery of the goods you order, from sites that are set up in China purporting to be Irish companies.                                                                                         

Golden Rule exercise great caution and care when meeting a person via internet dating services

Internet Scams Cyber Crime –

Ransomware is when rogue software code effectively holds a user’s computer hostage until a “ransom” fee is paid. In Ireland they purport to be an electronic FINE sent by An Garda Siochana Ransomware often infiltrates a PC as a computer worm or Trojan horse that takes advantage of open security vulnerabilities. Most Ransomware attacks are the result of clicking on an infected e-mail attachment or visiting a hacked website. Upon compromising a computer, Ransomware will typically either lock a user’s system or encrypt files on the computer and then demand payment before the system or files will be restored.

Advanced Fee Fraud People place an ad for something they are trying to sell or rent, and ask a price for the item. They receive a call, or an email, and then an offer to send a check for the item, or the deposit and initial rent. Shortly thereafter, they receive a cheque (generally from a company), or a bogus Bank Draft, for an amount far in excess than the amount agreed. If you ever run into this, rip up the cheque.

The second stage of this fraud is when the person receives an email requesting that the difference be refunded via a wire transfer. However, why send an excessive cheque, and why from a company? Because it has the appearance of being legitimate. Both Bank Drafts and a Company Cheque from the company that the scammer has mentioned that he or she works for, give a sense of secure excellence. The differences in the agreed amount of the deal versus the amount of the cheque are a huge red flag.

Another thing to pay attention to is the email itself. If it is full of bad grammar, poor spelling and has some inconsistencies in wording that should be a warning sign to you. Cyber Crime is an international fraud; and internet translation is not yet an accurate science. This swindle works on a percentage of people who by their nature are overly trusting of others.

Friend in Distress swindle

Facebook, has 1.6m Irish users and a third of Facebook users post information about planned holidays. This can put themselves and their friends at risk because cyber criminals may target the friend-lists of these holidaymakers, using their knowledge of the holiday destination to create fake emergencies such as claiming that they have just been robbed, in order to swindle money from these friends.

Email’s saying something like I was mugged in Lanzarote, please send me €500 to sort things out and get home”, with a request to transfer funds through untraceable Western Union.” Scams like this appear credible, and are occurring all the time, people fall for it and send ‘friend in distress’ money, then are shocked to find the friend was never mugged and knows nothing about it.  I personally have received these bogus emails purporting to come from people in Community Alert groups, who have my email address.      

Summary: Community Alert is about Safety and Security, whether crime related or otherwise.  Any proposal that focuses on community Safety and Security will be very carefully considered.                                            

Diarmuid Cronin. Community Alert Southern Region,

Development Office.

021- 7339 011                                               



Safety Note by: Diarmuid Cronin – Community Alert Development Officer


Directions to your Home, for Emergencies

On regular occasions every year we all give detailed instructions to strangers, how they can find and drive directly to our home. Strangers such as:

  • Couriers with a parcel
  • Deliveries of Supplies and equipment
  • Emergency Services

Consider the implications of poor directions given to an Ambulance or Fire Brigade. When seconds are critical, proper preparation saves lives. In a life-threatening or distressful situation, most people will be upset panicked and confused

Therefore it is advisable to prepare a short written description advising a stranger on how to find your home starting from a well-known local landmark.  A few sentences should suffice.

  • Carefully detail route, left and right – turns and forks in road.
  • A brief description of entrance to your home.
  • Place this description prominently, somewhere near your home-phonesIt may unfortunately be a younger member of the family that will need to use it on your behalf.
  • A growing percentage of drivers now use satellite navigation, Global Positioning System or GPS but not all emergency services have GPS installed, and GPS systems may delay arrival by poor choice of route. If possible acquire the GPS position of your home and write that also on the directions to home card.
  • Local road numbers are a help.
  • Estate name signage, and easily read house numbers are very important.

Safety Note by:

Diarmuid Cronin

Community Alert Southern Region,

Development Office.

021  7339011  –  086  6000752  


New Partnership with Muintir Na Tire & the Gardai

Grapevine Communications are delighted to announce a partnership as a Communications provider with Muintir Na Tire the community based Government agency long associated with community alert groups in Ireland.

We have worked very closely with community groups and An Garda Siochana in the last number of years and are now in a position to announce this partnership. During our time working on and developing our model of community group texting we carried out extensive research of current practices within local communities. Through our long and detailed discussions with these groups they can see that our model of texting for small and large groups works best. This was first endorsed by South Cork Enterprise Board and the company gained a place on the prestigious Genesis programme in 2009 as a high potential start-up company. Since then the company has evolved into a best practise community texting service with over 50 community groups using the service Nationwide. With the reducing number of Gardaí available, the need for this type of service has never been greater.

So how do we get the word out there?

We use a number of different platforms including our SMS gateway to send out group text messages whereby groups can be divided and subdivided into as many groupings as requested. This is most useful for relaying information about current events such as a robbery as it is happening. We have had great success in this area with a number of culprits being apprehended shortly after a group text has been sent out. Email alerts are more useful for informing people of upcoming events or general information. We also offer social media alerts for those that require it such as Facebook and Twitter.

With over 97% of Irish residents now owning a mobile phone and landline usage decreasing to 69% (Irish Examiner 15th May 2013), the timing for this service is right. Some landlines are enabled to receive text messages and for those that are, we can also offer a texting service.  

Our mission is to work with community groups to provide the easiest to use service with the most reliable SMS interface whilst allowing local people to be the eyes and ears of their community.

A user friendly service

Because we have been researching and working closely with Community liaison officers from An Garda Siochana and community groups they know that our service is the easiest to use and most cost effective.

Once a community group makes contact with us we work with you every step of the way, providing you with information about how to set up your group(s) and we will set them up on our secure database.

We adhere to all data protection legislation. We never store recipients’ names only their numbers and we also guarantee that we never pass any numbers on to third parties.

In the event of any suspicious criminal activity being observed by a community member and the activity is verified by An Garda Siochana they will contact us with a secure password that we have previously issued and we send out the group text message to the relevant group(s). No broadband or computer usage is required. We have the capability to send messages out to limitless number of people at any one time with a delivery time of 5 seconds to 1 minute. We have a 99.9% delivery rate with only those with mobile phones out of range or switched off not receiving the message.

Some groups have opted to use our online service for those with good broadband in the Garda Station and this is also working very well.


*        We have NO set-up fees or monthly charges

*        We operate on a pre-payment system

*        One text is  160 characters or less

*        Emails and updating social media free

*        A statement is sent out monthly detailing all your texts sentImage

Contact us for more details now on and we will explain how we can be of service to your community group and walk you through the process. We provide a cost effective and easy to use service.

We pride ourselves in our personal service for all our community groups but don’t just believe me have a look at some of our testimonials.

I have worked closely with this company since Cobh Community Text Alert Network was launched and I have found them to be extremely professional to deal with. Their staff is extremely helpful and are always only a phone-call away. The company has shown enormous flexibility in that they operated out of hours when the need arose as a result of an emergency in Cobh earlier this year. This was very much appreciated by both the Gardaí and general public in Cobh. 
Grapevine Communications have contributed enormously to its success and will have a huge role to play in its maintenance and progression into the future. I have no concerns whatsoever about the service
Grapevine Communications provide. I am grateful for their assistance, professionalism and support as the administrator of the network. I would have no hesitation in recommending their services.”

Eric McCarthy
Community Garda Cobh

I consider the system to be an excellent tool for communicating with the wider public. It allows for instant messages to be passed to areas in our communities that are remote and isolated.
The community groups are then able to pass on this vital information to a network of people within their own area, and thus the message has a vast ci
rculation. It has proven to be an excellent tool, aiding in the detection of crime, and travelling criminals, and also acts with regard to crime prevention, as the texts increase awareness, and encourage the public to be proactive in the fight against crime.
The feedback from these groups has been 100% positive, with no negative comments on the service provided. I can only highly recommend the system, and its provider.”

Damian White
Community Garda Bantry District

“Grapevine Communications have provided a flawless service. There has never been even the slightest hiccup, due to your professionalism. Alerts are sent swiftly, without error. Accounts are clearly detailed, and well kept.
Your service has been the keystone of the success of Text Alerts throughout the Southern Region”.

Diarmuid Cronin
Community Alert Development Officer Southern Region

New developments

We here at Grapevine Communications would like to thank our loyal customers that have been using our fully managed group text service over the last 3 years.
We have a very exciting  development to announce. We are now launching an online group texting service this new service will allow customers to access our SMS gateway through our website and send out group text messages to groups of as small as 2 up to groups of 1,000’s.
This great new service will be of particular interest to our sport text and NiteOutText customers as it will allow them to upload their own lists of numbers and organise and send out their own group texts from their own PC or smart phone, at a very competitive price.

This is a very exciting new departure here for us and of course we will be available to offer customer support to all our new online customers.
This new service will also be very competitively priced so if it’s a new marketing campaign you need to commence or a sports club you need to send large group text messages out to please let us know and have a look at our newly revamped website,

And for our existing fully managed group text customers we can continue to offer this service as we will be running both services side by side.

Office 353 21 4928947
Mobile 353 85 8139590

Good results

Just recently we here at Grapevine Communications were having a look over some of our clients and the successes they have had over the past few years.

Firstly there is Ballymartle GAA just in 2 years they have transformed themselves from having an Intermediate hurling panel that had had some successes over the years to a club that went in 2010 to be County finalists and winners at Intermediate level and then on to compete in the All Ireland competition a dream for a small club, they went on to win the All Ireland final in Croke park in February 2011,no mean feat. So far this year in their Senior campaign they have been doing well in the League games .Also their football squad have been doing well with an win recently at U21 level.

They have been using the sport-text service during this time and while obviously a good squad of players plus a great team of mentors is required to make a winning team, having a very easy to use texting service keeps all team members and back room team informed of events at all times.

Also more recently Charleville GAA have had great success also winning a County final in 2011 at Junior level and going on to play at Croke Park in an All Ireland final also and winning and have now moved up this year to Intermediate level. Again they have found using the sport-text service has given them great flexibility and has proved to be a great addition in the club set up.

Of course there are many other clubs and organisations using the service that are participating in events just this past weekend the West CorkMotorcycle club ran a very successful Drag race in Ballinhassig, Co.Cork, they find using the service is very flexible, reliable and everyone is kept informed of events.

Office 353 21 4928947
Mobile 353 85 8139590

Sometimes just thinking about it can feel like rubbing salt in the wounds, still.Paris awaits

Exonerated Ferris free to face France

By Brendan O’ Brien

Wayne Barnes should not have awarded a penalty against Stephen Ferris – let alone followed it up with a yellow card – for the tackle on Ian Evans which allowed Wales to snatch victory at Lansdowne Road last weekend
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