Suspended sentence for stealing €12,000 through rental scam

Man used fictitious name and doctored contract he had previously received from a letting agency

A man who stole €12,000 though a rental scam has avoided a jail term after repaying his victims.

Anthony Byrne (40) had access to the property through his work with a contractor that was involved with renovating and repairing properties when he placed an advertisement for the property on He used a fictitious name and doctored a contract he had previously received from a letting agency himself to use as a leasing agreement with the successful tenant.

Byrne of Miltown Meadows, Archerstown, Ashbourne, Co Meath, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four charges of inducing another to pay him €3,000 by deception and use of a false instrument at Applewood Crescent, Swords, Co Dublin, on dates between September 13th and 14th, 2020. He has no previous convictions.


Ms Justice Melanie Greally on Monday said the offences had been a very considerable breach of trust and involved a significant level of deceit.


She said Byrne had created great hardship for the victims, in addition to significant disappointment associated with thinking they had secured accommodation and then discovering that was not the case. She said he had acted in a premeditated way.

The judge noted the financial loss in each case had been made good and Byrne had not come to adverse attention since.

The judge also took into account in mitigation the early guilty pleas, the full admissions made and the remorse expressed by Byrne. She noted his difficult family and financial circumstances.

She imposed a two-year sentence which she suspended in full for two years.

Det Garda Conor Tumbleton told John Berry, prosecuting, that a woman replied to the advert and arranged to meet Byrne, who was posing as a letting agent called Stephen Cummings, at the property in question.

The woman’s suspicions were raised when Byrne asked for the rent and deposit to be paid in cash to secure the property. She contacted the letting agency who Byrne claimed to be working for and they confirmed that no Stephen Cummings worked there and advised the woman to contact gardaí.

Det Gda Tumbleton said four other people met Byrne and handed over the €3,000 he asked for to secure the property.

The first woman forwarded a copy of the rental agreement Byrne had sent to her to gardaí. The letting agents were able to confirm that it was a doctored contract and noted that a particular formula on the contract had only been used once previously by them and that was with a lease agreement between the agency and Byrne.


A warrant was secured to search Byrne’s home and the doctored leasing agreement and a number of items linking him to the fake persona were found, Det Gda Tumbleton said.

He said on September 16th, 2020, on foot of the first woman’s complaint, gardaí arrived at the property to investigate and found one of the victims there. She said she was waiting for a letting agent to collect the keys for the house having paid €3,000 in rent and a deposit two days previously.

Det Gda Tumbleton said the letting agents had been contacted by other victims looking to gain access to the property.

Byrne later made “forthright and immediate admissions”. He had paid for the advert using a prepaid Mastercard in the name of Stephen Cummings and had registered a prepaid mobile phone under the same name. He has since resigned from his job.

Byrne told gardaí his partner had recently lost her job because of Covid and he was on heavily reduced hours with work.

A number of victim impact statements outlined how various people were affected by the scam.


One woman, who had €3,000 stolen from her, said she had never previously suffered with her mental health, but she now sometimes cries for such a length of time that she struggles to breathe. She said she lost her job due to Covid and her mother had to take out a loan to cover the money that was stolen from her. She said she has never felt heartbreak like this before.

Another person said she is more suspicious of people in general. She lost all her savings when she handed over the €3,000 to Byrne and said it took her a long time to save up the money again.

A third woman, who also had €3,000 stolen from her, stated: “It is hard to be able to put money aside at the end of the month. I don’t think it is fair to steal from others.”