Wednesday, 29 June 2020

The conman who told it to Joe from his 'borrowed' Merc gets jail time off

Con-artist Frankie Shanley, who once persuaded camera crews to follow him around Belfast nightclubs, managed to get a few months off a jail sentence yesterday. Shanley is one of those charming lifestyle con-artists like Tom the Con (McLoughlin) and Terry Kirby who just can't help themselves. He featured on Liveline and even phoned into the show. At Ennis Circuit Court he won an appeal to have a four month sentence changed from consecutive to concurrent with the one he's already doing. One of his scams was to pose as a cop at car dealers pretending to be new in town, then driving off in into the sunset with a test car. He's got 50 convictions and has spent most of the last six years in out and of district courts.

Tuesday, 28 June 2020

If you're going to tell a lie tell a big one - the almost perfect con.

No doubt that greatest con-artist has never been caught. More likely, he or she is a celebrated figure and sitting on a gargantuan pile of cash. The case of Langbar International, a cash-shell company with no cash, shows how smart criminals can pull off paper heists. Using fake documents and dozy professionals, they floated a company on a London stock exchange in 2003 claiming to have $633 million cash reserves in a Brazilian bank. It turns out they didn't. Investors were stung for at least $53 million but investigators think losses could be well over $100 million. The real losses will now never be known. Chief executive Stuart Pearson, seen as a patsy in the sting, was the only person convicted and got a 12-month sentence last week. When he turned up in Brazil to check on the firm's cash, he was told a bomb scare had shut down the offices and was directed to a new location to meet the bank's "lawyers." His reassurances to London investors made all the difference. Read The Guardian's coverage.

Thursday, 23 June 2020

Ireland's taste for fake fags is starting to attract attention #smuggling

Ireland holds the record for the biggest seizure of smuggled tobacco ever discovered in the EU at Greenore near Dundalk in 2009. Europol's Howard Pugh yesterday informed the Retailers Against Smuggling annual conference that Ireland has Europe's worst tobacco smuggling problem. But it has less to do with our fondness for smoking than the high tax-rate on retailed tobacco products. Cigarettes go for half the price in Belgium and France making it attractive for smugglers to sell in Ireland and also to the UK.
But the profit margin isn't enough for the smugglers who boost their takings by sourcing cheap brands and forged packaging in the Far East. Previous estimates from the tobacco industry suggest as many as 300 million counterfeit or tax-dodging cigarettes are smoked in Ireland every year. Cigarette smuggling is used as a handy revenue stream by some of the country's most dangerous organised crime gangs and helps to finance major drug deals. Read previous posts on fake fags. including pictures of forged packets bought at a street market.

Tuesday, 21 June 2020

You couldn't make it up: Rathkeale traveller trader suspect behind bizarre Rhino horn thefts

Straight from the Department of Fact is Stranger Than Fiction it seems that some Rathkeale traveller traders have started stealing rhino horns to sell to the traditional Chinese medicine market. There has been a series of break-ins at museums in Germany, Italy and the UK, due, no doubt thanks to the €60,000 a kilo reportedly being paid for rhino horn. Two Rathkeale travellers, Richard 'Kerry' O'Brien and Michael Hegarty were recently convicted of smuggling rhino horns in the United States. Read the full story here.

Thursday, 16 June 2020

Even the only expert in the village got swindled by art forgers

Wernier Spies prided himself on being the world's only expert on the art of German surrealist Max Earnst. After he authenticated a painting it was later bought by a New York collector for $7 million. It was a bit of shock for all involved to later find the artwork was in fact the work of a group of forgers led by artist Wolfgang Beltracchi in what is being billed by Der Spiegel as the biggest art forgery scandal since World War II.
Works from the group found their way from Paris and New York galleries to the world's top collectors. In passing off the forgery it was claimed to have been bought from a man who had set up 1929 exhibition from which 50 works are still missing. Hollywood scriptwriters are probably already on the case. Read the story here.

Monday, 13 June 2020

Swanky Franky makes an ass of the law - not that it needs much help

A liquidator has been appointed to Francois de Dietrich's company Etic Solutions, a year after it stopped trading. Now "somewhere in France" Swanky Franky was doorstepped recently by BBC's Spotlight, but the law this side of the border has been slow to get going. The High Court order was brought by an investor who lost cash. It's incredible we still can't deal effectively with white collar fugitives like Swanky Franky and Michael Lynn. Read the High Court story here.

Saturday, 11 June 2020

Students charged with forgery over swapping IDs in the 2008 Leaving Cert

This is a first - two students have appeared in court on charges of forgery and cheating in the Leaving Cert. It's claimed one kid had gotten a scholarship to Yale University and swapped identity with a friend for the physics exam. Read the court report here.

Wednesday, 8 June 2020

"Even Irish travellers" were stung by slick French con-artist

Award-winning businessman Francois de Dietrich has been avoiding High Court actions in both Northern Ireland and the south after his company Etic Solutions collapsed under his apparent Ponzi scheme. He offered investors 15 to 40 per cent return on their cash, but the company's assets were frozen last January after concerns by investors. Last night Spotlight NI did a great job, tracking him down in France where he said he promised to return to Ireland. Read here. No-one really expects to see their cash again.
He used two well known GAA players to help sell the scheme that attracted over 400 people who paid in st£20 million. Spotlight's reporter Enda McClafferty said that business people accountants, cops and "even Irish travellers" had invested.

Tuesday, 7 June 2020

Phone phishers pretend to be efficient employees from UPC

These con-artists look like they're trying a long shot by claiming to be from UPC in a bid to get targets to give up personal information. Read, listen here on Live95fm. Cops in Limerick are warning householders to beware of the callers offering to sort out problems with computer connections.

Thursday, 2 June 2020

End of the road for corporate con-artist after three decades on the run

Corporate fraudster Robert Stapleton managed to avoid the authorities over three decades. Now its reported he has been found dead on the street in Brittany after suffering a heart attack. Read here. Over the years he had been reportedly visiting his Rathcoole home in County Dublin, despite being the subject of an extradition order and a European Arrest Warrant. Those who met Stapleton described him as a very smart but a very manipulative character. Originally from Kilkenny, he executed a multi-million pound fraud by making up fake export deals for his company Ultraleisure and claiming financial support under a government scheme in the UK. Despite being on the run he also managed to get grant aid in Ireland for a software company as well. Read previous posts.