Monday, 31 August 2020

HACK attacks

When one door shuts, the fraudsters look for another way in. On the US west coast there is evidence of hackers targeting small to medium companies by hacking into their on-line banking accounts. There's a full account of the attacks in the Los Angeles Times. As yet I haven't heard of any similar attacks in Ireland, where outsiders successfully get into a company's accounts and start transferring cash out.

Friday, 28 August 2020

CARD crooks

As I know from personal experience anyone can get their credit card skimmed and used by a criminal. It's happened to top banking executives in the UK, but the latest high-profile victim is the chairman of the US Federal Reserve Ben Berbanke. In his case fraudsters targeted his wife's bank account after her bag was snatched in Washington DC (Read the story here). As people get wise to skimmers at ATMs and at retail outlets, professional gangs are using traditional pick-pocketing methods to get hold of cards. In the US one gang, known as Cannon to the Wiz stole from people at big sporting events. In Ireland a Romanian 'Fagin' flew in over a hundred young pickpockets from Spain to target tourists in Dublin city centre.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020


The London Independent ran a great piece yesterday on the saga of the high-quality counterfeit $100 dollar bills known as the Superdollar (read here). Former top-IRA man Sean Garland, currently battling extradition to the United States, was a key figure in a plot to pass the notes off in Europe, according to the indictment from the US Secret Service. The Indie's article gives a real sense of the well-connected and vibrant parallel economy beavering away in the background, funding all sorts of illegal activity. The illicit economy runs from the fake watch salesmen at tourist haunts to the supply of heavy weapons to drug cartels and rogue states.

Monday, 24 August 2020


There was another High Court case last week which yet again more than hints of a big iceberg of mortgage fraud lurking beneath the choppy surface of Ireland's financial stew. A year ago my Sunday World colleague Niamh O'Connor wrote about a dodgy broker who organised hundreds of mortgages, providing fake documents whenever needed as part of the service. Then, in March the Dail Accounts Committee heard about 'Builder Bailout Fraud' from the head of the Criminal Assets Bureau. Bank execs at the same hearings were confident that they had caught the handful of fake applications.
I think the bankers are living in a wonderland.
The case in the High Court, last week involved Limerick solicitor Michael Small, Carrick House, Newenham Street, Limerick. The Law Society applied to have his accounts frozen. They claimed he operated a secret client account that was €1.2 million in deficit. The lawyer for the Law Society said it was uncertain what was going on, but that Small appeared to be involved with broker where fake valuations of properties were given.
The week before the Law Society were in court over solicitor Eamon Comiskey from Portlaoise and his apparent failure to pay mortgage arrears in property transaction.
The recent cases are small fry compared to Michael Lynn and Thomas Byrne but they all centre around solicitors being allowed to 'self-certify.'
But the real point is that the banks weren't careful during the property goldrush and now they are stuck with some very dodgy loans.
There have been plenty of cases of mortgage fraud in the UK and and US. Last week the Chelsea building society in the UK revealed it had uncovered st£41million of mortgage fraud in which brokers, valuers and solicitors are suspected of inflating prices on buy-to-let schemes.
It would be extremely naive to expect that the situation in Ireland is any different. It's definitely a case of: "Watch this space."

Monday, 17 August 2020

BUNCH of bankers

The political will to chase after dodgy bankers seems apparent in the United States, according to this story. It's a pity that the government here haven't shown the same appetite to get stuck in the perpetrators of the financial scandals in Ireland. In the long run there will be a political price to pay.

Friday, 14 August 2020

SMOOTH talker

Here's a good (or bad, depending on your view point) story about Welsh conman Neil Taylor. He was jailed this week for four years, adding to his long list of convictions. The bit I like is where an accomplice runs into a house telling the victim: "Quick, get out! Nathan's been arrested."

DODGY lawyers

Another dodgy solicitor has been outed in Ireland. This time its Eamon Comiskey in Portlaoise. He failed to clear mortgages in property transactions leaving buyers with the debts. The High Court shut him down this week after an investigation by the Law Society. As already learned from various cases, including that of Michael Lynn and Thomas Byrne, Ireland's lawyers are not closely enough regulated. The idea that the gentlemen of the law will always conduct themselves properly is simply asking people to trust too much.

Thursday, 13 August 2020

FAKE electrical goods

Mobile phone chargers have long been a favourite of counterfeiters. They're easy to sell and the danger of causing a fire or electrocution is usually overlooked by bargain-hunters. Hair-straighteners, however, wasn't one that I'd thought about before. They're actually quite expensive to buy so there's a market for cheap alternatives. Read this warning.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

FISHY fakes

THE whistleblower who exposed dodgy dealings in Ireland’s fishing industry still can’t get a licence to go to sea. Maverick mariner Pat Cannon’s wrangle with red-tape has left him driving a taxi at weekends to make ends meet while his fishing boat stays tied up. He’s convinced he’s being victimised by officials after he blew the whistle on so-called illegal catches of ‘black-fish’ being sold to the fish processing industry. His allegations in 2004 sparked a huge investigation resulting in Ireland’s fish quota being cut after a threat of multi-million euro fine by the European Commission. “I’m 99 per cent certain I’m the only boat owner in Ireland who was not allowed to transfer his tonnage from one boat to another,” he stated. He also discovered that his licence to fish had been withdrawn without his knowledge. He found out when a potential buyer for his boat made enquiries. “At the moment my boat is tied up at Killybegs Pier going to loss,” he said.
The County Donegal man, who previously took successful legal action against the Department said that he believes he is being singled out. He added that complaints he made again individual officers have been ignored. Pat stirred up controversy when he wrote to the Irish and Norwegian governments and the European Union about widespread illegal practices. His campaign resulted in a massive Garda operation which saw raids on fish processing factories, boats and offices. A probe into illegal landings in Scotland discovered that more than €40 million worth of illegal Irish fish had been landed there over a four-year period. The Irish government was also forced to accept a cut in the country’s fish quota after an investigation by the EU. On one occasion in 2006 fishery officers found two large boats unloading illegal catches while their tracking systems suggested they were 25 miles out to sea.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

CANCER chancer Nicholas Quigley

BOGUS healer Nicholas Quigley is still in business, 10 years after being first exposed as a chancer selling potions made from mouthwash and muscle rub. Despite an outcry from relatives of duped patients, Quigley has continued to make up to €1,000 a day claiming to be able to cure serious illnesses like cancer.
Working from a shabby flat in Kildare town, Ireland, Quigley’s appointment book is full with people queuing for cures and paying €60 for the privilege. Over 20 people were booked in on the day the Fakes, Frauds and Scams called.
The smell of his cigarette smoke permeates the waiting room, while the occupant of the flat upstairs treated the waiting clients to Led Zeppelin’s greatest hits. Despite the queue, there are many who have condemned his healing powers as a scam, giving seriously ill people false hope. One man from the north-west this week condemned Quigley as “a complete fraud” who preys on the old and vulnerable. An elderly relative drove two hours to see Quigley at his Castlebar clinic where she waited for over an hour in a hall full with other clients. “She is crippled with arthritis and his advice to her was to not eat chicken,” he told the Sunday World.
People travel from all over Ireland and the UK to see Quigley in his clinics in Mayo, Kildare and Tipperary “My father went and Quigley told him he was clear of cancer. When he was scanned again the cancer was back,” one person told the Sunday World. “I’m worried now that he’ll want to make the trip again and he’s not able for it,” they added. Another person from Castlebar expressed anger that the quack was still able to operate. Quigley wasn’t always so modest about his healing powers and in the past told his clients to stop taking their life-saving medicine.
Ten years ago, one man who suffered from diabetes told how taking Quigley’s advice almost cost him his life. He said on North West radio that Quigley had told him “there was no way he had diabetes.
“I stopped taking the tablets but three weeks later collapsed. I was out in the farmyard and my brother found me in a semi-conscious state.” The man added he had been referred to Quigley by a terminally ill patient who later died. Quigley recently told one patient at his Kildare clinic that he would be crippled if he hadn’t come to him with his back problem. The consultation took place in a room at the back of the house where an unwashed towel was spread over a massage table. The wall beside the table was scuffed with shoe marks from Quigley’s patients.
His open box of cigarettes sat on a table beside his mug of coffee. Tobacco smoke hung in the air.
Asked if he should keep taking his medication Quigley replied: “You’ll feel so good you won’t want to take it.” The client said he suffered from agonising nerve pain caused by a car crash and sports injuries. “I’ll be very gentle, I won’t hurt you at all. I wouldn’t hurt you for the world. I’ll have you perfect,” Quigley re-assured him. “The worst person you can go to is a chiropractor” Quigley advised our man. “Never let anyone do any thing to you again.”
The healer stuck his thumb in his client’s abdomen and told him he was pressing on a gland that was a reservoir of healing: “I’m going to unlock that,” he claimed. He then advised the patient to take an iodine bath for 20 minutes and that would be enough to cure his ailment. He wrote down a note to buy the seaweed bath from a chemist. Quigley told how one man had come to see him almost unable to walk but that now he could walk perfectly and “you’ll be the same”.
Back in 1999, the Sunday World bought one of his bottles of cure-all lotion for IR£400, which he mass-produced in a milk churn. A leading chemist tested the mag ic potion and discovered it contained Winter Green cream, methanol mouthwash and anti-rheumatic gel.
The Tipperary-born chancer claims he inherited the gift of healing powers from an aunt and always guarantees his clients that he can cure them. He once stood as Dáil candidate in Tipperary and has previously owned race-horses. Another client previously told the Sunday World that she would have been dead if she had listened to Quigley. She was suffering from skin cancer but Quigley had told her he had cured her after one visit. “He rubbed his thumbs over my face, where the cancer was, and told me I would not need any more treatment. Thankfully I didn’t listen to him,” the woman said. Cancer specialists rubbished claims that such a serious disease can be cured by a healer. Quigley told one man, who later had to have a lung removed, he had “blasted away” the cancer with his thumbs. People who claim to be healers are not breaking the law even if they give dangerous advice contrary to proper medical practice.
On the other hand, registered doctors face being struck and charged with a criminal offence if they give reckless advice.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

CANCER chancer

Ten years ago the Sunday World exposed Nicholas Quigley as a bogus faith-healer. Bottles of his 'cure', for which he charged IR£400 (€508), contained nothing but muscle rub and mouthwash. Unbelievably he's still in business and charging his clients €60 for consultations. Apparently he can only cure cancer before lunch. Today's paper has the full story.