Tuesday, 31 March 2020


The latest wheeze from the 419ers is a phising email purporting to come from the taxman. It took me a few seconds to realise it wasn't a genuine email. It was clever in that it was only offering a €414 refund instead of the usual €100 million. One slight difference however are the two lines at the end warning that ISP addresses are recorded and that 'deliberate wrong inputs are criminally pursued and indicted.' Clearly it is an implicit threat along the lines 'we know where you live.' Obviously the scam-baiters are getting on the nerves of the 419ers. Keep up the good work. The Revenue Comissioners issued a warning about the email.

Monday, 30 March 2020


Consider that four days ago art dealer Lawrence Salander was charged with stealing $88.5 million from his clients. It appears to be a pretty grubby ponzi-scheme. Lawsuits started against him last October and by November he declared bankruptcy. It took six months for criminal charges to be brought against him. He's small-time compared to Bernie Madoff and his $64 billion scam. Madoff confessed to his sons on 10 December last year, he was arrested on 11 December and jailed on 12 March - three months from start to finish.
Irish lawyer Michael Lynn exploited the idiotic regulations to take out multiple mortgages on properties. He used the cash to expand his property developing business. Lynn owes financial institutions €82.5 million. People have lost their family homes because Lynn didn't pay-off outstanding mortgages as promised. The Law Society appointed an officer to investigate his practice in September 2007, the High Court shut down his law business in October that year. Two judges referred documents to the Garda Fraud Squad and the Director of Public Prosecutions. Now, 18 months later Michael Lynn remains free to run his property firms. No criminal charges have been brought against him. A High Court bench warrant was issued but can only be executed if he sets foot in Ireland. The Madoff case was done and dusted in a sixth of the time since Lynn's fraud came to light. Truly then Ireland is the fraudster's paradise.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

SCAM central

It's been a busy day for fraud. City of London Police are investigating a €56 million mortgage fraud in London in which Allied Irish Bank were hit. It certainly makes the figures for mortgage fraud given to the Irish Fraud Bureau by the banks look pretty light on reality. At least my one blog subscriber can say: "He told me so."

Back in Dublin three car-dealers and a tax official were charged at Tallaght District Court over tax dodging on imported cars - this is a story that has legs (as they say in the business). Those charged are Lee Cullen, Richard Mockler and John Dunne along with taxman Gerard Blaney.

As if that's not enough Customs seized eight million cigarettes worth €3.2 million at a warehouse in Carrick-on-Suir, in a surveillance operation. The container of Benson and Hedges cigarettes originated in China and was shipped through Dublin port. If the Government raises taxes on cigarettes as expected in the up-coming budget then the smugglers and counterfeiters are going to make even more money.

Finally, old Tom the Con is back in front of the judge. Tom O'Loughlin, made famous by an afternoon radio talk show, Liveline on RTE1, was back up to his old tricks. The small-time grifter used to stay in hotels and bounce cheques and became a minor celebrity as listeners phoned in about his latest caper and his whereabouts. He was in Dublin Circuit Court today charged with taking deposits for an apartment from two foreign nationals. Tom has 41 previous convictions, mostly for fraud and will be sentenced next month. His defence lawyer mentioned that Tom was the primary carer for his ill girlfriend. The judge said that he was written confirmation of this as the woman "could be a figment of our imagination" considering Tom's track record. Wise judge.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

HOLY scam!

It looks like the local police in Florida knew what they were talking about when they predicted Father Francis Guinan would get a stiffer sentence than his co-accused Father John Skehan. He got four years for his part in skimming parish donations from the congregation at Delray Beach.

HOLY scam!

Sit-com priest Father Ted was found of saying: "It was only resting in my account." Not so for Father John Skehan and Father Francis Guinan - they just spent it on having a good time. Forensic accountants think the pair stole a total of €6.4 million over the years. Yesterday 81-year-old Father Skehan was jailed for 14 months for skimming cash from donations at the wealthy Delray Beach parish in Florida. The likeable Kilkenny native put his hands up and admitted the fraud when a whistle-blower alerted the police in 2006.
Not so for his successor who fought the case all the way. He was initially arrested for drunk driving when his girlfriend tried obstruct the arresting officers. Local police think he'll get five years when sentenced later today.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020


Thanks to the head of Criminal Assets Bureau we now have a new term in Ireland: builder bailout fraud. Detective Chief Superintendent John O'Mahoney used it to described how desperate developers are hiring con-artists with bogus identities to buy properties they can't get off their hands. He was speaking to a committee at the Oireachtas, the Irish parliament, on the subject of mortgage fraud.
Another delegate from the Irish Fraud Bureau came up with some figures that suggested the Irish banks are hoping that mortgage fraud has gone way. Twelve banking executives were surveyed in December 2008 of which eight said they detected false documents, saving their banks €500,000 each. Three were certain none had got past their procedures. Considering that a €300,000 mortgages were very common its looks like they have done some serious under-estimating. My Sunday World colleague Niamh O'Connor last year exposed one corrupt broker who set up hundreds of mortgages for people using faked documents.
Judging by the slew of mortgage fraud cases emerging every day in the United States it looks as if the Irish banks are adopting an ostrich approach by burying their heads in the sand.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Banana Republic

Last week in the courts there were a few fraud cases of a type more usually associated with Banana Republic regimes. It would seem that some people just can't resist dipping their fingers in the till. A bank cashier, an immigration clerk and a tax official were sentenced in Dublin for using their positions of trust to line their own pockets. Cashier Darren McComiskey used a card-reader to skim 87 customers' details at the busy College Green branch in the city-centre. Cloned cards were then used to take €320,000 from the accounts between October 2006 and February 2007. He blamed an eastern European nightclub bouncer for forcing him to take part in the scam. Lucky for McComiskey his three-year sentence was suspended.
The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation were also involved in the second case of a bent official, this time Department of Justice employee Dara Revins. He teamed up with Chinese man Bin Yang to grant visa extensions for cash. Yang hand over €1,500 for each visa but chargd his countrymen €4,000. Yang is on the run having skipped bail while Revins is now serving an 18-month stretch behind bars.
Last up before the courts was Revenue Commission employee David Leonard who put in bogus medical claims on behalf of people he knew. He split the rebated cash with them. He pocketed €20,000 between April 2004 to February 2005. Colleagues blew the whistle when they noticed Leonard had logged onto these case files an unusually high number of times. Leonard got a two-year suspended sentence and a €10,000 fine.
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