Monday, 23 November 2020
Police in Italy have uncovered a huge fraud involved forged bank bonds with a face value of millions. Organised by crime syndicates based in Spain, it has all the hallmarks of a well-organised scam by criminals with serious connections. With money from the fraud being invested in soccer clubs it has all the makings of a future movie plot. Read about here.
Wednesday, 18 November 2020
The High Court confirmed this week the Medical Council's decision to strike off Doctor Emad Massoud. The Egyptian doctor who featured in The Fraudsters is serving time for his attempt to con insurance companies of €730,000 by faking his wife's breast cancer using her mother's tissue samples in 2002. The good doctor has fought the case every inch of the way from mounting a legal challenge to his initial arrest to his recent failed appeal against his conviction. Finally, the game is up - although most of the money was never traced after being invested in Romania and Egypt.
Tuesday, 17 November 2020
It ain't easy being a whistleblower, but the least the State should do is protect those who are properly motivated. Transparency International have raised the issue today as Ireland improves its ranking on the international corruption index to 14th. That ranking says a lot about the rest of the world's 180 countries. Also, author Andrew Sweeney in his book Banana Republic suggests that whistleblowers should be rewarded with 10 per cent of the cash saved in any abuse of a government contract. Last week a case in the Commercial Court highlighted how the whistleblower can end up at the wrong end of the stick. The solicitor who called foul in the firm of fugitive lawyer Michael Lynn is at the centre of accusations by Lynn's insurers trying to avoid liability for the mess he created. The thanks you get...
Thursday, 12 November 2020
Have a good look at the cigarette packs. One is real and the other is fake. Counterfeiters are supplying fake cigarettes specifically for the Irish market, complete with Irish language health warnings and the official stamp on the back. They are made in black market factories in China for as little as 20c a pack and sold in Ireland at €4.50 - a real pack costs €8.47. I bought the fake pack in a carton of 200 for €45, sold by a street trader operating in full view. They arrive in Ireland via Far Eastern ports where the manifest declares the tobacco as toys or furniture. An estimated 1 billion smuggled cigarettes are sold in Ireland of which about a third are counterfeits. The counterfeit end of the market is controlled by people with connections to organised crime gangs and dissident paramilitary Irish republican groups such as the Real IRA. The fake pack is the one on the left - its slightly more gold in colour and the embossed B&H logo in the front is not as prominent. The Revenue stamp on the back is a colour photocopy and is slightly blurry in comparison to the real thing and certain security features are missing (but you'd need a UV light to see them). Not withstanding the tobacco companies' scare stories about the fakes testing positive for rat feces, urine and extra helpings of the bad stuff that are in cigarettes anyway, a colleague bravely road-tested a counterfeit. His verdict suggests that the counterfeiters are very good at their job. (Thanks Derek, the new lung is on the way.)
Tuesday, 10 November 2020
Counterfeit medicine is a real danger to health, but another lucrative area of counterfeiting people rarely think about (probably just as well) is aircraft parts. Simple things like nuts, bolts and washers made for aviation use undergo a more stringent manufacturing procedure. As a result something that looks like it could from a hardware store for 10 cents actually costs €50. As a result the temptation is there to repackage the 10c washer as a €50 one. The infamous Concorde crash in July 2000 was as a result of a piece of metal lying on the runway hitting an engine causing it to explode. The piece of metal had fallen off another plane because of a counterfeit part. In The Fraudsters I wrote about Joseph Smith who set up a firm in Shannon, Ireland, selling aircraft parts. In fact he just re-conditioned old parts and passed them off as new until the US Air Force found him out in 2000. He skipped bail leaving his two sons to face the rap. This week Duane Lepire in Los Angeles was selling ordinary rubber seals as being fit for aviation use. The 74-year-old got two and a half years in jail.
Monday, 9 November 2020
My Sunday World colleague Jim Gallagher recently launched his book Immaculate Deception which tells the tale of the House of Prayer and how 'visionary' Christina Gallagher has milked her flock for cash. Jim did a brilliant job tracking down every detail about her money making operation since she began communicating with the Virgin Mary. Well worth the read.