Friday, 31 July 2020

SUPER dollar

Yesterday three men were convicted of a so-called tiger robbery in Dublin. A family was held hostage while a security guard was forced to hand over €2.28 million. One of those convicted is Christopher Corcoran who was mentioned in the 2004 Grand Jury indictment that also mentioned ex-IRA leader Sean Garland as a key player in a plot to sell forged €100 notes. Known as Superdollars, because of their very high quality, they can only be detected by forensic tests. It is thought that they are printed in North Korea, although conspiracy theories abound. Operation Mali, launched in the UK in 1998, saw three conspirators jailed including a former KGB officer David Levin. Investigators, who included two undercover US agents posing as a cigarette smugglers, discovered evidence that linked the plot to the Official IRA. Corcoran was arrsted in 2001 on the foot of warrants from UK police, while US authorities have made attempts to bring Sean Garland to a US court. Garland's case is currently before the High Court and is due for hearing again in October. Read the indictment here. There's a full account of the affair in The Fraudsters.

Thursday, 30 July 2020


Egg supplier Pearse Piggott from Galway agreed to his extradition to the UK today over an alleged scam in which eggs from caged birds were passed off as organic or free range. According to the details in the European Arrest Warrant heard in the High Court last month, it was claimed that he'd bought caged eggs from a UK supplier which he then sold back to the same supplier from 2004 to 2007. The alleged transactions involved millions of euro worth of eggs. Read more here.

WELFARE whisteblowers

It looks like the days of claiming the dole while quietly working for cash are gone as more and more people phone up to report neighbours making false claims. Two and half thousand people reported their suspicions in the first six months of the year so far, a rise of 700 per cent compared to the same period in 2008. Read more facts and figures here from the Department of Social Welfare.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

DODGY repair shops

Sky News will have scared the hell out of a lot of home computer users with this story. Gary Glitter was exposed as a paedophile several years ago thanks to the files on his computer which he had left in for repair - the fact that the repair techie was rooting around his hard-drive got lost in the bigger story. The Sky team found that most repair shops routinely searched through people's private infiormation as a matter of course. The lesson to be learned is that if (sorry, when) your PC goes wallop change your passwords before handing in the machine for repair.

ATM fraud

There's been a few headlines this week about a gang using construction equipment to attack ATMs in Ireland. There's been five attacks in two weeks in which a lot of damage is done to the building housing the ATM. But the skimmers are still at it of course. Last week the Financial Ombudsman published their annual report and included two cases of people who had to battle with the banks after they claimed their cards were skimmed. One woman who lost €540 was denied a refund by her bank, but the Ombudsman came out on her side. A backpacker who claimed €4,000 was taken from his account was also turned down a refund. This time the Ombudsman said €2,000 taken in Italy did fit the pattern, but that the other transactions did not look like a typical fraud.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

RATHKEALE and fraud

The County Limerick village of Rathkeale made headlines recently after the image of the Virgin Mary was seen in the stump of a felled tree. It is a bit of good news for the little village in rural Ireland which is also the spiritual home to some of Ireland's most prolific fraudsters. This time last year members of the 'Bishop' O'Brien clan from Rathkeale were selling dodgy generators all over Australia (read it here). Fair trade officials there called it one the biggest and well-organised scams of its type. Another of Rathkeale's traveller-trader sons in Michael 'Levan' Slattery who is the subject of legal action by an antiques dealer in Baltimore, Maryland. Read the full story here about 'Levan'. Apparently the far-flung Irish traveller-traders and the fraudsters amongst them are promising to make a pilgrimage back home.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

BOGUS doctor

The very strange case of "Doctor" Michael Ward ended today with a six-year jail sentence for him. He pretended to be a doctor to his girlfriend of four months and put her life at risk when he treated her for cervical cancer. There didn't appear to be any money motive, presumably he got his kicks out the power it gave him. Read about here.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Tom the Con


IRELAND’S infamous fraudster Tom the Con last week narrowly avoided a stretch behind bars thanks to his loyal girlfriend even though he used her apartment for a rental scam. But Michelle Clarke has decided to stick by her man despite learning about his true crooked nature. A relieved-looking Tom said after the sentence hearing that he had turned over a new life and promised to dedicate his life to penal reform. “My ambition now is to work for penal reform and do a Nick Gleeson - work for the common good,” he told Fakes, frauds and scams.
The notorious spoofer blamed his past scamming on his booze addiction and being homeless for ten years. He paid €2,400 compo to the foreigners he had tricked into handing over a deposit to rent his girlfriend’s flat in Dublin 4 and got a glowing report from the Probation Service.
As a result Judge Frank O’Donnell said he would suspend the two and three year sentences.
Asked if he had really turned over a new leaf, Tom the Con swore blind he was now on the straight and narrow. “I have completely, yes.”
“I worked for eight years in the prison service I saved two lives from hanging. I could have rose to the top, but I couldn’t take any more of it. I was ten years homeless,” he said. He said he wanted to work on reforming Ireland’s jails. “I have a file on Mountjoy Prison that will take that prison to its f***ing knees,” he claimed.
He became infamous in the early 1990s for doing runners from B&Bs and hotel all over Ireland, shimmying down drain-pipes and sneaking out through windows to avoid paying the bill. Well-spoken and erudite Tom the Con has also been adept at chatting up the ladies, slipping a few of their blank cheques into his wallet before dumping them. One lady he charmed was left €13,000 out of pocket when she had to make good a cheque Tom the Con had bounced.
Over the years Tom the Con has told people he’s an architect, cancer specialist, an engineer, a garda, stud farm owner, a property developer and more. He used a variety of names including Tom McLaughlin, Thomas McLoughlin, Adrian Kennedy, Tom Fleming, Tom O’Malley, Tom Moore and Kevin Walshe. Originally from Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, he lived in Swords, north County Dublin for several years. He worked as a prison officer for ten years and received a commendation for the saving the life of prisoner who tried to hang himself. In another con in 1999, McLoughlin told an auctioneer he wanted to buy a €450,000 house while posing as an American millionaire. He befriended the owner and then made off with his jeep and ran up a IR£2,000 bill. In the past Tom the Con has even used meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous to make connections and to gather useful information.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

DIRTY swine

Every cloud has a silver-lining and Swine Flu is an opportunity for the professional scam artists. Apart from the websites and their spamming pals offering cut-price counterfeit Tamiflu, there are other products being offered to sale to the frightened and gullible. The Canadian authorities have been issuing warnings about the scams. Click here to read it. Various pills, sprays, fake test kits, wall-mounted ultraviolet light machines that claim to prevent the spread and destroy the virus. There's even a gadget with "photobionic energy" and "deeply penetrating mega-frequency life-force energy waves" that would strengthen the immune system and prevent infection.
There's opportunity in every crisis. At the height of the Mad Cow scare a number of Irish farmers and livestock dealers conspired to plant an infected animal in a healthy herd to claim compensation.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Tom the Con

VETERAN fraudster Tom the Con McLoughlin is a relieved man today. Facing sentence for seven counts of fraud and deception at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin, he was very happy when the judge suspended his two and three year jail terms. The court heard he had paid compensation to the victims of his rental scam and hadn't been in trouble since. Has Tom the Con, who has 41 previous convictions, turned over a new leaf?

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

ATM fraud

At different ATM machines around Ireland there are little spots visible where skimmers glued on card readers and false fronts to hide their mini-cameras. To see what the equipment used by the fraudsters actually looks like check out this on The Consumerist.

Monday, 13 July 2020


Amid the smouldering wreckage of the credit crunch last September various governments pronounced that days of tax havens were numbered. Large corporations were legally using shell companies to transfer funds to avoid paying tax on profits. Then there's the criminal networks of money launderers washing all the billions accrued through stuff like drug and gun smuggling, not to mention the burgeoning counterfeit and fraud industries. So, ten months later have the secret piggy banks been cracked open? Well, er, no.
The OECD had set up a system known as Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs). Any country which had failed to set up at least 12 would be on the black list and risk possible sanctions. Every jurisdiction now has the minimum dozen agreements signed up. Jersey for instance includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland among its twelve. It has also signed a TIEA with Ireland but it is not actually active. It's the same with the TIEA between Ireland (see Ireland's TIEAs here) and Guernsey, another preferred bolt-hole for hot cash coming out of Ireland.
In other words it's business as usual.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

OLAF and fraud

THE European Union's anti fraud office OLAF released its annual report for 2008 today. It mentions that it recovered €430 million of EU cash while it cost €53 million to operate the service. Sounds like good work.

Monday, 6 July 2020

RED card for skimmer

Adrian Pleseru is one rung up the ladder in one of Europe's most sophisticated and well-organised card skimming gangs. The 28-year-old Romanian was sentenced to four years in jail after being caught red-handed with card-cloning equipment. It wasn't his first conviction. His role involved making clones of stolen credit cards and skimmed bank details. At his apartment in Dublin the cops found hundreds of magnetic-strip cards ready for use along with bank customer details from all over the world.

At the time another Romanian crime figure based in Dublin had brought in over 100 young teenagers to pick the pockets of tourists around the city's best known landmarks. They are the guys just under Pleseru in the pecking order. Back in April 2008 they were working hard with stolen credits cards being cloned and used in places such as Madrid and Oslo within hours of being swiped in Dublin. The scam was making an estimated €200,000 for the Mr Big who Pleseru did not name to the police. Read the full story here. Thanks to Liam O'Connor from the Sunday World for the picture.

Sunday, 5 July 2020


Serial fraudster Terry Kirby is back in jail until February 2011. The prolific con-artist would usually pretend to be a famous professional jockey to gain people's confidence. One of the escapades he is currently serving time for, saw him walk into a County Galway pub and persuade the barman that he had come to change the price settings on a cigarette vending machine. The staff then helped him load the machine and its valuable stock of cigarettes into the car he'd stolen from a house party the night before. Read more about the life and times of Terry Kirby and the full story here.

Friday, 3 July 2020

BUSY week

There's been plenty of fraud stories making the headlines this week starting, of course, with Bernie Madoff getting his 150 years behind bars. Ireland's white collar fraudsters such as Breifne O'Brien and Michael Lynn are still out and about while presumably the investigations plod on. The money will be well buried by now.

The good Doctor Emad Massoud (who features in The Fraudsters) was also in the news, appealing his four year sentence for insurance fraud. He claimed €730,000 after using his mother-in-law's tissue sample to make it appear as if his wife Gehan had suffered breast cancer. He claims the conviction was unsafe and should be set aside. The appeal court judges are now considering the case.

Ireland's Revenue Commissioners also issued a warning this week about a phishing scam purporting to come from them. Readers of Fakes, Frauds and Scams knew all about it since March.