Former Customs officer pleads guilty to fraud

Thu, Dec 6, 2012, 00:00

A retired Customs and Excise officer received a suspended sentence for his part in a sophisticated banking scam involving a Nigerian criminal.

At Galway Circuit Court yesterday, Eoin Breslin (64) of Cullairbaun, Athenry, pleaded guilty to six charges of forgery and theft from Bank of Ireland, Eyre Square, Galway.

Garda Marie Connelly said Breslin was contacted online by a Nigerian criminal based in Lagos, who claimed he wanted to free money tied up in a cotton plantation in Africa and needed help in doing so.

The man told Breslin he would send him American Express travellers’ cheques, which he was to lodge into his own bank account here. He told the accused he could keep 10 per cent of the money lodged provided he withdrew the remaining 90 per cent and sent it back to him in Lagos.

On six dates between October and December 2010, Breslin received a magazine in the post from the man in Lagos with a fake travellers’ cheque hidden inside.

Breslin lodged the cheques, totalling €22,900, into his account and withdrew 90 per cent of the value of each cheque (€19,982), which he sent to the man in Lagos. He kept €2,918 for himself.

The judge sentenced Breslin to 12 months in prison on each of the six charges to run concurrently and suspended the sentence for three years.