Man jailed for fraud after conning man out of daughter’s college fund

Accused had gambling addiction and was online for 10 hours a day, court told

The man had amassed gambling debts, the court heard. File photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

The man had amassed gambling debts, the court heard. File photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

A gambling addict who posed as a social worker to con his victim out of his daughter’s college fund has been jailed for three years for this and other fraud offences.

Gareth White (33), of Hogan Court, Hogan Place, Dublin 2, placed an advert on the Gumtree website, looking for a loan of €5,500 on the promise that he would pay back €8,000 in four months.

A man replied to the advert and met with White in the canteen of Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. White told him he worked as a social worker for Tusla and he was in financial difficulty due to a marriage breakup and his mother requiring surgery.

He provided a letter of employment on Tulsa-headed paper and phone bill as proof of identity and the man took his photograph.

He told the man he would pay him €2,000 in four-month instalments for the loan but he never did.

He instead emailed the man on a number of occasions looking for further loans but the man explained he had given him his life savings, which he had been putting away for his daughter’s college fund.

The man realised he had been the victim of a fraud and contacted his local gardaí.

White was also involved in a scam in which he set up a bogus account with a taxi company, claiming he was the account contact for a homeless charity.

The company would pay the taxi drivers for the various runs and send out an invoice for the work but never got paid.

Garda Ciara Curtis told Michael Horrigan BL, prosecuting, that it was a scam to allow for the drivers to be paid for expensive journeys such as a trip from Dublin to Cork that cost almost €700.

The drivers would then give White cash in the region of €50 to €100 for booking the bogus fares. The company were at a total loss of €11,221 over the course of four months.

Bogus accounts

In a third scheme in February 2020 White again created a bogus account with a mobile phone company and ordered 115 phones and broadband devices at a cost of €36,729. The items were delivered but never paid for.

White pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to various charges of theft and deception on dates between March 2017 and April 2020.

He was on bail for the earlier two offences when he set up the bogus account with the phone company and has 13 previous convictions for minor offences.

Oisín Clarke BL, defending, said his client had developed an online gambling addiction which involved him being online for up to 10 hours a day.

Counsel said it was “the legacy of the gambling addiction” that led White to criminality before he outlined a number of health problems his client suffers from.

He said he was involved in a serious traffic accident when he was 15 years old, which led to the death of his friend and to the accused being hospitalised for two years for treatment for a number of issues including temporary paralysis.

Mr Clarke described the offence of posing as the social worker as “blatant” and said White had not expected to get away with it.

Judge Martin Nolan described White “as a pretty devious man” but accepted that he committed the offences because he felt under pressure to pay a gambling debt. He acknowledged that White made full admissions and is in bad health but said he deserved a prison sentence.

He sentenced White to a four-year consecutive term and suspended the final 12 months on strict conditions.

Detective Garda Shane Behan said he got a complaint from Three Ireland that an account had been set up with them and phones ordered in February and April 2020. The items were delivered but never paid for.

The account contact had provided a company name and number and AIB bank account details in order to set up a direct debit before the deliveries were made.

Gardaí were contacted when the invoices went unpaid and Det Gda Behan said he recognised the account contact’s mobile number as being White’s. The phones had also been delivered to two addresses associated with White.

He was arrested and made full admissions. He said he had sold on all the devices and had made about €10,000 from the scheme.

The Garda investigation also revealed that Behan had used the details of a company that had stopped trading in 2012 to set up the account with Three Ireland.

Det Gda Behan accepted in cross-examination that White was under pressure to pay back a gambling debt. He said he was also aware of White’s health difficulties.