Thursday, 28 January 2020

Fraud and Midweek

Last night I got another chance to go on about fakes, frauds and scams, this time on TV3's Midweek with Colette Fitzpatrick. If you missed it or want to watch it again click here for the TV3 catch-up. Una Dillon from the Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO) was also on the show talking about how ATM and credit card skimming works. And then there was the shameless plugs again...

Tuesday, 26 January 2020

FAKE illness

This is another story from the "You Couldn't Make it Up" department. Lisa Hayden-Johnson was jailed for three years last week for pretending her son had a range of serious illnesses. She spent welfare benefits, grants and donations from well-wishers thanks to her son's diabetes, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, a neurological condition, a metabolic disorder, food allergies and an intolerance to sunlight. Neighbours got suspicious when they spotted the teenager playing football in the back garden and eating an ice-cream. Read the full story here. If it wasn't so serious it would be funny.

Thursday, 21 January 2020

MORE mortgage fraud

Last year banking officials told the Dail Accounts Committee that they were pretty much on top of mortgage fraud and the use of false documents and declarations to get loans. Their optimism was quite surprising. This week yet another Irish solicitor has been struck off over making false loan applications. Mary Miley from County Wicklow got loans worth €1.25 million using her maiden name and fake documents. The Law Society has struck her off and she could now face a criminal prosecution.
In Belfast a welfare fraudster Frances McCluskey used her cash to build up a property empire, borrowing £4 million using fake documents. The Serious and Organised Crime Agency got a High Court order yesterday to seize 41 properties in Belfast and Spain along with paintings and cash held in bank accounts. Both cases highlight how easy it has been to use fake identities and documents to acquire mortgages. No doubt there's more to come.

Monday, 18 January 2020

REAL fakes

Sometimes the fakes are the real thing, but are being passed off as something else. Pictured are euro, turkish lira and thai baht coins. If you ain't quick you might just get one or two of these in your change. I got these from a newsagent I know (with his co-operation). Apologies for the bad photography, but for the record the top coin is a two euro piece while the lira is bottom left and the baht is on the right.

Friday, 15 January 2020

CARD sharks

It's looks like we were right to be paranoid about credit card fraud. A court case in London has laid bare the extent of the black market in stolen personal data. A secret website, DarkMarket, was uncovered when one of it's organisers, Renukanth Subramaniam (pictured), was stung by an undercover FBI agent. Strictly invitation only, users of the website from all over the world, sold and swapped stolen personal details that allowed them to carry out huge frauds. One buyer spent st£250,000 in just six weeks for stolen information. The operation to shut down DarkMarket came after the FBI cracked the ShadowCrew site in the US. They think the site was just one of a 100 they know about, but that hundreds more could exist. Read the full story here in The Guardian.

Thursday, 14 January 2020

DEAD man's birthday

There was a case today in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that says it all about welfare fraud. A 65-year-old man Patrick McLoughlin drew his pal's pension for 23 years after his death. From Ballyfermot, Dublin, he admitted to a sample of charges of forging pension vouchers from 1984 until 2007. The fraud was discovered when welfare officials were getting ready to pay out a bonus to mark the man's 100th birthday. When an official called to the dead man's address the new owner said he'd bought the house in 1989, only then did they get a death cert dating from 1984. The case has been adjourned for sentence. It took a while for the bureaucracy to join the dots.

Wednesday, 13 January 2020

BOGUS Angels

A pair of fraudsters wormed their way into an elderly lady's life by faking their religious devotion. Brothers Conor and James Murphy got the woman to hand over cash and cheques worth €400,000 over an 11-month period, leaving her virtually destitute. One of them even claimed to have seen visions of her dead brother. Galway Circuit Court judge, Raymond Groarke, said it was one of the meanest and most miserable crimes he had ever come across. Read the story here.

Tuesday, 12 January 2020

POINTING the finger

It seems that people don't like to hear about their neighbours ripping off the welfare system anymore. The Department of Social Welfare have reported a record increase in the number of tip-offs from members of the public about suspected welfare fraud up from 1,044 in 2008 to 5,600 in 2009 (Read here).
If only the same civic spirit existed in the banking sector then the currently long, slow and painful process of investigation into Anglo Irish Bank might be going a bit a quicker.
These are some the issues that may be touched on by Transparency International's seminar next Monday in Dublin on the topic of protecting whistleblowers. Speakers include former AIB auditor Eugene McErlean and Bernadette Sullivan a former nurse at the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

Thursday, 7 January 2020

RATHKEALE travellers

The Rathkeale traveller-traders came home to County Limerick in fine style this Christmas. The tiny village was overwhelmed by the influx of expensive SUVs and luxury cars that made it look like the Old Trafford players' car park. We ran a story in the Sunday World about the cars and how some of the Rathkealers make their money. Read it here.

Wednesday, 6 January 2020

THE Fraudsters on TV3

I got invited to have a chat about fraud on TV3's morning Show with Sybil Mulcahy and Martin King. Watch it here (on the TV3 Catch Up player) and count the shameless plugs...

Tuesday, 5 January 2020

GREEN fraud

IT'S nice to know Europe's professional fraudsters are going green. Carousel VAT fraud is a lucrative sector for professional con-artists. In the simple version of the fraud a string of companies is set up to import and export goods in and out of different EU states. Exploiting the varying VAT rates between member states, the fraudsters use at least one firm in the chain to reclaim VAT on the 'transaction' which later disappears when tax officials start asking questions. It is also known as missing trader fraud. Small, but highly valuable, cargoes of items such as computer chips or gold bars are shipped around the chain of companies to create a series of transactions - hence the name Carousel fraud.
Now thanks, to the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme the fraudsters don't even need that cargo. The scheme was set up in 2008 to combat climate change by allowing firms to trade permitted emissions. But Europol believe that as much as 90 per cent of the market, worth €5 billion, is caused by fraudulent activity. Ouch.

Saturday, 2 January 2020

BUSINESS as usual

The first day of 2010 and it's business as usual for the cat-and-mouse game between Customs and the cigarette smugglers. Yesterday Customs seized eight million cigarettes at Dublin Port. The 'cheap whites' branded as Palace were in a consignment described as heaters. No doubt the cigarettes started life in either China or Vietnam with the manifest being changed in a free port some where along the way. The consignment came via the United Arab Emirates and would have cost the State €2.7 million in lost revenue.

Happy New Year!