Probation for man over Local Property Tax helpline fraud

Former Abtran employee Jonathan Gough (22) had pleaded guilty to improperly obtaining card details

Gough pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining card details from customers who rang the local property tax helpline operated by Abtran. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Gough pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining card details from customers who rang the local property tax helpline operated by Abtran. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Wed, Jan 15, 2014, 13:33

A 22 year old man who fraudulently obtained bank and credit card details from people when working on a helpline for members of the public inquiring about their Local Property Tax returns has avoided a jail term.

Jonathan Gough had pleaded guilty at Cork District Court last November to four fraud offences at Abtran Building 4, University Technology Park on Curraheen in Cork in May 2013.

Gough, a former Abtran employee of Glyntown, Glanmire, Co Cork was charged with the four offences contrary to section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences Act) 2001.

Gough was charged with dishonestly by deception inducing three women and a man on May 2nd, May 3rd, May 7th and May 9th, 2013 to provide their banking details.

The charges alleged that he obtained the details from the four injured parties under the pretext that they were making a payment for their local property tax.

The charges also alleged that Gough did this with the intention of making gain for himself or causing a loss to another person on the days in question.

Gough had begun working on April 27th 2013 for business process outsourcer, Abtran which was operating a LPT helpline for the Revenue Commissioners, the court had heard.

Between May 1st and May 9th, Gough handled some 750 phone queries from the public about the LPT and in some of these cases, he asked people for their bank and credit card details.

He was not entitled to do this but he used some of the credit card details to try and make online purchases only for all transactions to be declined, the court had heard.

Today at Cork District Court, Insp Pat Meaney said that there was no financial loss to any of the four people from whom Gough had obtained banking details.

And he also confirmed that Gough, who had no previous convictions for any criminal matters, had co-operated with gardaí in their investigation into the fraud offences.

Defence solicitor Daithi Ó Donnabháin submitted a medical report and a probation report and said his client was hoping to go back into full-time training with Solas in September.

He said that the case had been quite high profile which had attracted a lot of publicity for his client before pointing out his client had admitted the offences and co-operated with gardaí.

Judge Leo Malone noted the fact that no one was at a financial loss and Gough had previously been of good character with no previous convictions.

He also noted that he had co-operated with the Probation Service who found him to be a suitable candidate for them to work with and all of these factors were to his credit.

He remanded Gough on a probation bond for 12 months but warned him that failure to obey the direction of the Probation Service could lead to the matter being re-entered.

In that event, he could face up to two years in jail but if he obeys the direction of the Probation Service for the 12 month period, he would end up avoiding a conviction.