Trinity College hardship fund fraud: Man acted as money mule by allowing bank account to be used

Court heard that a garda investigation is ongoing into the scheme which resulted in over €549,000 being defrauded

A man who acted as a money mule, allowing his bank account to be used as part of a scheme to defraud the Trinity College hardship fund, has been handed a suspended sentence.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told on Thursday that Trinity College made a complaint to gardaí in November 2021, and an investigation is continuing into the scheme, which resulted in over €549,000 being defrauded from the fund.

Jose Bejarano (43) provided his bank account details to a third party, and €6,800 was transferred from the fund to his account in four payments between April and May 2021. He had no involvement or knowledge of the scheme to defraud the Trinity hardship fund, the court heard.

Bejarano, who has an address at the Academy, Park West, Co. Dublin, was handed a suspended 18-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to handling or transferring the proceeds of crime.


Following his arrest, he told the gardaí that a colleague – a security guard – asked if he could use Bejarano’s bank account to make a transfer as his account was not working. Bejarano said he provided his details in good faith and that it is not unusual for people to allow others to use their bank accounts for transactions in Venezuela due to issues with the banking system.

The court heard that two transactions totalling €3,400 were paid into his account between April and May 2021. A further €3,400 was transferred into his account from a relative’s bank account, with this money also originating from the Trinity hardship fund, the court heard.

Bejarano then withdrew the €6,800 and gave it to a third party. He received between €300 and €400 with the balance of €6,400 for the third party.

The investigating garda told Carol Doherty BL, prosecuting, that Bejarano gave his bank details as a favour to his colleague, then asked a relative to provide their account details.

He has no previous convictions, was co-operative with gardaí and has not come to recent negative attention.

The garda accepted the defence’s suggestion that it was reasonable for Bejarano to believe this colleague, who was working as a security guard, was garda-vetted and licensed.

It was further agreed that there is no evidence that there was any arrangement in advance for Bejarano to receive payment for his role.

The garda confirmed that Bejarano acted as a “money mule” at the lowest level and had no involvement in taking money from the hardship fund.

It was also accepted that Bejarano is not a man of means, is at low risk of reoffending and has no convictions in this or another jurisdiction.

Defence counsel told the court his client moved to Ireland from Venezuela in 2014 and has two children. He has a long work history and is the main breadwinner for his family, as his wife works part-time and has health issues.

He told the court his client believed the security guard to be a “person of good standing” who was working in a position of trust. He said his client was “naive and reckless” and should not have placed his trust in this third party.

He said there was no prior agreement for his client to be paid before the process started and that he is remorseful.

He asked the court not to hold against his client that the money came from a hardship fund as there is no evidence his client was involved or had knowledge of the scheme.

Judge Orla Crowe said the court could not overlook the fact that the scheme involved a hardship fund intended to support students experiencing difficulties.

She noted that the monies had not been repaid and the fund was at a loss of €6,800 in relation to Bejarano’s participation.

Judge Crowe said Bejarano thought he was obliging a work colleague and took an “active role” by allowing his bank account to be used and handing over the money, for which he received €400.

She imposed a suspended sentence of 18 months, taking his personal circumstances and the mitigation into consideration.