Couple caught with ‘Aladdin’s cave’ worth of stolen items in hotel room
Stolen credit card details used to pay for flights, toys, hotels, clothes, jewellery
The couple have been remanded in custody since their arrest. They have no previous convictions.Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
A couple who were caught with “an Aladdin’s cave” worth of stolen items in a Dublin hotel room will be sentenced later for fraud, theft and criminal damage.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that subsequent analysis of Muhammed Kashif’s laptop led to the discovery of 200 pages of online chat, which involved four participants disclosing the details of thousands of credit cards.
Kashif (42) and his wife Deepa Vaswani (39) with an address at Surin Residence, Malaysia had used stolen credit card details to pay for €1,452 worth of toys from Smyths Toys, €161 worth of sex toys and their six night stay in the Fitzwilliam Hotel on Stephen’s Green, costing €2,781.
Garda Cathal Feely told Ronan Kennedy, prosecuting, that they had also used stolen credit card numbers to buy flights from Dublin to New York, costing €3,592 and Dublin to Kuala Lumpur costing €8,798.
He agreed with Mr Kennedy that when officers raided the hotel room it was “an Aladdin’s cave” with over 140 items being seized as potential exhibits.
This included a camera, a €4,000 watch, six mobile phones, a large amount of new clothes and €15,000 worth of various currencies from Brazil, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Australia, Moldova, Thailand, Malaysia and Trinidad and Tobago.
The couple were caught after Barclays Bank contacted Smyths Toys to alert them to the fact that a customer’s credit card had been used fraudulently to make a large purchase at their store.
Garda Feely agreed with Mr Kennedy that Kashif “made no admissions of criminal activity” during a Garda interview and claimed a friend had bought the toys. He said he had employed a travel agent who had booked all their flights and accommodation.
Vaswani told gardaí that she believed her husband booked the flights through a travel agent after giving the agent cash. She accepted that she had taken delivery of the toys.
Kashif and Vaswani both pleaded guilty to handling stolen credit card information, being reckless as to whether it was the proceeds of criminal conduct, unlawfully operating a computer with the intention of making a gain, two charges of dishonestly buying flights online, obtaining hotel accommodation using stolen payment card details and theft from both Smyths Toys and Love Toy Shopper on dates between December 1st and December 7th, 2017.
Additionally, Kashif pleaded guilty to criminal damage of the following toys: a Lego Box, Sylvanian Families, Barbie House, My Little Pony Dolls and Little Live Pet. He was in the process of opening all the toys to store them in a larger container and it is on this basis that he was charged with damaging the packaging of the toys.
The couple have been remanded in custody since their arrest. They have no previous convictions.
Kashif is originally from Pakistan, while Vaswani is from Singapore. They were living in Malaysia with their three children before they travelled to Ireland.
Keith Spencer, defending, told Judge Melanie Greally that his clients’ children, who are nine, seven and five years old were being minded by two nannies in Malaysia when their parents first began travelling around Europe.
He said the children’s residency in Malaysia was dependant on their father living there too and since his clients’ remand in custody, their residency visa has expired.
They are now being cared for by a distant relative of Vaswani and are no longer permitted to attend school.
Counsel asked the court to consider releasing one or both of his clients from custody, by suspending any sentence imposed, to allow them to return home to sort out the family’s situation.
He accepted that both Kashif and Vaswani were “authors of their own misfortune” but said the situation in relation to their children was worrying.
“They are family people and want nothing more than to return to their children,” Mr Spencer said.
Mr Spencer told the court that Kashif said he got his laptop from a friend and accepted that “the motivation behind his crime was greed”.
Mr Kennedy drew Judge Greally’s attention to the fact that a letter handed up on the couple’s behalf in relation to their children’s schooling, refers to a school in Singapore. He said Mr Spencer had never mentioned the family having any connection to Singapore.
Mr Spencer took instructions from his clients and said the children were to attend that school this January before their parents’ remand in custody.
Referring to the letter, Judge Greally said it “was not consistent with what the court has been told”.
She adjourned the case to Friday to allow time for the defence to produce “something official from an independent body to confirm the position of the children”.