Wednesday, 15 December 2020

THERE'S only one Juan

SERIAL globe-trotting conman Juan Carlos Guzman Betencourt has been sentenced to 30 months in a US federal prison. He was caught trying to enter the US illegally from Canada in September 2009. He arrived in north America after finishing a jail sentence in France for credit card fraud. He was extradited back to France after he was released from an Irish jail in December 2006 for talking security personnel into opening a safe for him at the five-star Merrion Hotel - he went on an up-market shopping spree with the credit card he found. The erudite and charming con-artist is portrayed as a modern Frank Abagnale made famous in the movie Catch Me If You Can. He can expect more jail time with a number of law enforcement agencies all over the world waiting to talk to him. Then again he has shown himself able to talk his way out of jails as well. Read previous posts.

Tuesday, 14 December 2020


A file is expected to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions tomorrow following the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank by the Gardai and the Corporate Enforcement office, read more here. It's two and a half years since the first signs that the bank was on the verge of collapse. By contrast Bernie Madoff was sentenced to life in jail less than five months after he first admitted that his investment business was just a scam. The investigation into Anglo Irish was held up by a legal challenge over access to seized files and then by failures to hand over passwords for encrypted files. New legislation on white collar crime recognises the failings in the current system and will make it a crime not to co-operate. On the other hand the DPP came out today to say his office was understaffed and over-stretched, read here. Even after all the angst over ECB and IMF bailouts there is still a lack of political will to tackle corruption.

Friday, 10 December 2020

DODGY drugs

Momma's little helper is not what it used to be. The medicine counterfeiters make plenty of money selling dodgy Viagra and slimming tablets for the western market. Fake medicine for more serious problems are more likely to be shipped to developing countries where controls are less stringent and officials more pliable. This week in the UK five men went on trial over a plan to sell counterfeit drugs in the UK. The drugs involved are used to treat cancer, heart disease and schizophrenia. The Chinese supplier Lu Xu as caught by US undercover agents investigating a completely separate scam when the five businessman came up on the radar. The drugs such as Zyprexa cost €94 a packet making it a valuable scam. Read about the court case here. This week documents released by Wikileaks highlighted how corruption and counterfeiting go hand in hand. US diplomats are not apparently happy the way the Chinese turn a blind eye to counterfeit goods flooding the Kenyan market. Read here. Of course, one way to make it less profitable for the counterfeiters would be subsidise pharmaceuticals and push the use of generic brands. Read previous posts on counterfeit drugs.

Monday, 6 December 2020

DUD notes

It's that time of year again - when little children write their letters to Santa, when office parties get out of hand and when fraudsters do their best to pass off duds notes. Today ten people from the travelling community were caught with counterfeit notes. Read more here. As any trader in Rathkeale, County Limerick will tell you some members of traveller families are up to their neck in passing dud notes. The little Limerick village is where hundreds of roaming travellers return every Christmas from all over Europe and further afield and there are frequent attempts to pass off dud notes. Mind you they are at the bottom of the chain in what can be sophisticated criminal enterprises to print and distribute fake currency. The source of dud notes usually charge around 10 per cent of face value, which are then sold off for 50 per cent face value, usually to those who will try to covert the fakes into real cash. Read previous posts on forgeries, here.

Thursday, 2 December 2020


A used car-dealer was jailed yesterday for clocking cars - a practice that is fairly widespread in the back-street car business. He imported three cars, an Audi TT, a Golf and an Audi A4, changed their odometers and sold them for €20,000 more than they were worth. Jeffrey Beere, a 28-year-old from Blackrock, was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to falsely altering the odometers. Read more. The real kick in the teeth for the new owners is that they can't sell the car without admitting it is clocked, making it practically worthless, even if they do track down a service history. The AA revealed in a 2008 report than one in five UK imports sold in Ireland were clocked cars. A successful conviction in Ireland is rare because it is not an offence to sell a clocked-car if you don't know it has been clocked. When a salesman tells you that the car had only "one previous careful lady owner" make sure you get it checked out.