Tuesday, 30 March 2020

NAMA day

Nearly a year and half since the Irish financial industry crashed and burned, the clean-up operation has finally begun. Today NAMA announced the first tranche of loan purchases from Irish banks for an average 47 per cent discount. Read the latest here on RTE. The real crowd pleaser, however, has been the recent arrests of Anglo Irish Bank's old boss Sean Fitzpatrick and then its financial officer William McAteer. Both were questioned by Fraud Bureau officers. Ex-chief executive David Drumm is now living in Boston and has not been questioned by officers. People cannot be forced to return to Ireland for questioning unless criminal charges are brought against them. Now all that's left to deal with are the dodgy auctioneers, brokers, solicitors, builders and developers who scammed buyers, fixed prices and falsified paperwork.

Tuesday, 23 March 2020


Mobile phone companies are getting hit every-so-often by well organised criminals setting up premium phone lines. These premium content lines can charge callers various amounts per minute depending on the country's regulations. Betting tips, psychic advice, porn are all popular content. The fraudsters set up a premium content number (such as a 1550 number Ireland) which punters pay €5 a minute to call. For example a number is set up in Luxemburg. The fraudsters then organise a series of phones to call it from the UK, using Irish-registered mobile phones. The fraud is executed on Friday evening to last all over the weekend, running up large bills. Because the calls are made via different providers in different countries there can be a lag of several days before scam is shut down. Meanwhile the company in Luxembourg has racked up several €100,000 in charges. The key to the fraud is getting enough bill-pay sim cards from one jurisdiction to use in another. Even easier than Carousel Vat fraud. Read the brainy stuff here.

Thursday, 18 March 2020

ANGLO Irish arrest

This morning Sean Fitzpatrick, the former chairman and chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank, was arrested. There are investigations into the failed bank being carried out by the Office of Corporate Enforcement, the Financial Regulator and the Garda fraud squad. He stepped down as the bank's boss in December 2008 as allegations emerged of circular transactions and hidden loans. Read the story here on RTE. His arrest comes more than a year since investigators seized documents from the bank

Tuesday, 16 March 2020

LYNN sin

Anglo Irish Bank (well known for the their well-judged gambles on the property market) got possession of four properties owned by fugitive solicitor Michael Lynn, pictured right. The Mayo native is being investigated over €80 million worth of apparent multiple mortgages, but has skipped the country since a High Court warrant was issued for his arrest two years ago. It is not a criminal warrant and so cannot be executed abroad. Judge Brian McGovern was wondering why an international arrest warrant hasn't been issued for Lynn . So are the rest us. Read the High Court case here

Monday, 15 March 2020

LIFESTYLE fraudsters

There's gifted con-artists out there who just keep going even though they have to know they are going to get caught. People like Juan Carlos Guzman Betancourt and Terry Kirby live from sting-to-sting, interrupted only by stints in jail. A new movie I Love You Philip Morris details the life and times of one lifestyle fraudster, Steve Russell, who is now serving 144 years. Last year, The Observer ran a piece about the movie and the story behind which you can read here. With Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor it proves that people just love a good story about a con-artist, so long as they are not the victim.

Thursday, 11 March 2020

BAD Eggs

A fraudster who passed off 100 million eggs as free-range was jailed for three years in the UK today. Keith Owen admitted the charges that he made st£3 million from the scam. One of the co-defendants was Galway business man and former All-Ireland hurler, Pearse Piggott. He was accused of supplying eggs from Irish caged-chickens, but escaped sanction. Prosecutors decided not to go ahead with the case against Piggott and two others. Read about the court case here. Pearse Piggott still has his own troubles with the banks who called in their €7.9 million worth of loans last year when they read in the media that the UK authorities were seeking his extradition. Read about his High Court case here. Suspicions about the egg-scam arose when lorry drivers at Owen's factory got fed up waiting and suspected eggs they had just delivered were being relabelled and sold back to them. It's hard to keep everyone happy when you're running a scam.

New hosting

Google are changing the way some blogs are posted and this is one of them. Hopefully all the changes have been made so that there is a seamless transfer to Fakes Frauds and Scams new home (which looks very like the old one).

Wednesday, 10 March 2020

LIFELOCK unbolted

US company Lifelock which capitalised on people's fears about identity theft have been branded a scam by the Federal Trade Commission and ordered to pay back $12 million back to its customers. The company promised to protect clients from fraudsters by placing alerts with financial companies. The best bit was CEO Todd Davis use of his social security number in advertising campaigns to prove his confidence in the service. It turns out someone used it to take out a $500 loan in his name in 2007. Read the story here on Wired. I suppose it's another version of the investigator who offers to get your cash back from a 419er for a fee.

Friday, 5 March 2020

SMALL'S Big House

This is a bit late, but just in case you haven't seen this report it's worth checking out the house a fraudster built. Builders' merchant Gerard Small from Tyrone, Northern Ireland, defrauded revenue of st£4.5 million in unpaid tax and false claims for family credits. He preferred to splash it all on his ornate house. He even held an open-day so neighbours could come in and gawk. Have a look at the pictures here on the BBC.

Wednesday, 3 March 2020

SLOW burn Bernie

I've moaned about how slow things are to move against Irish fraudsters when compared to how quick the US authorities moved against Bernie Madoff. His sons blew the whistle in October 2008 and by March 2009 he was serving a life sentence. There's nothing like the immediate threat of jail to uncover any hidden stashes of money. But it seems the US financial watchdogs have not covered themselves in glory. Self-confessed 'Greek geek' Harry Markopolos has written No One Would Listen about his ten year battle to expose Madoff as a fraud. He was pointing the finger long before Madoff was forced to admit he was a conman. Check out this very interesting extract here.

Tuesday, 2 March 2020

AIB and fraud

Two men have now been charged with one of the UK's biggest property frauds which saw Allied Irish Banks lose st£56 million. Achilleas Kollakis persuaded the bankers he was a big player in the property market. He got loans thanks to having blue-chip tenants for various properties (such as UK government agencies.) The claims were fake or exaggerated. Read the press release from the Serious Fraud Office here and follow the links through a previous post for more information on Kollakis' colourful life.