Man to be sentenced for role in Dublin rental scam

Tenants would pay deposit and discover another person was living in the apartment

 

A man who was part of a scam that defrauded six potential tenants out of almost €11,000 by getting deposits for an apartment he did not have permission to rent out will be sentenced later.

It was accepted that Robert Long (32) was not the main instigator of the scheme nor did he financially benefit from it. He acted as the current tenant in the Dublin apartment, while the man who acted as the landlord and took the deposits, has yet to be identified by gardaí.

Long, who lived for some time in America, with an address Clonca Culdaff, Carndonagh, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to six charges of theft and two charges of deception at Longboat Quay, Grand Canal Dock, in Dublin on dates between July 29th and August 1st, 2017. The deception charges represent a sample of a total of six such offences.

He has no previous convictions and had €10,700 in court to fully compensate the victims.

Judge Melanie Greally remanded Long on continuing bail and adjourned sentencing to October 29th, next. She ordered a report from the Probation Service for that date and asked that Long be assessed for suitability for community service.

Garda Derek Brereton told Gráinne O’Neill BL, prosecuting, that the owner of the property had rented it through Airbnb when she became aware that a number of people were turning up at the apartment on the mistaken belief that they had rented it.

Those people affected had responded to an advert on Daft.ie and met with a man known as Jack Lyndsey at the apartment. Gardaí are satisfied that this was not the man’s true name. They each paid over various different cash amounts towards a deposit, signed contracts or lease agreements and were provided with keys.

They realised that they were a victim of a scam when they arrived at the apartment to move in and discovered that another person was living there.

Gda Brereton said that Long’s role was to act as the residing tenant of the property and potential tenants were informed that he was due to move out.

Gardaí secured CCTV footage from the apartment block using the timeline given by the victims and noticed Long arriving in a taxi. Contact was made with the taxi driver who advised that he had picked the man up from a local Tesco.

Gardaí­ then secured footage from that Tesco and noticed the suspect buying items there. They then secured a copy of a receipt from the purchase from the shop, which led them to the bank account details of the customer from which they secured an address from Long.

Long was taken in for questioning, but initially made no admissions. Having sourced legal advice he then told gardaí that he had a limited knowledge of the scam.

He said he had been depressed and lonely and was abusing both alcohol and drugs. He described it as “a massive mistake” to get involved and said he did not take any cash. He refused to give gardaí any details of the man falsely known as Jack Lyndsey as he said the man had an extremely violent history and he was worried for his own safety.

Gda Brereton agreed with David Staunton BL, defending, that his client fully co-operated with the Garda investigation after he got advice and gardaí­ were satisfied that he did not gain financially from the scheme.

He accepted that Long befriended this other person who later used him.

Mr Staunton said his client had €10,700 in court to fully compensate the six families or couples affected by the crime.

“It was a nasty enterprise that took advantage of people who struggled to find accommodation in Dublin. It took advantage of people who were vulnerable,” Mr Staunton said.

He accepted that his client “was a cog, while not the main cog” and was willing to participate.

“He may not have the full picture himself but he knew something was awry,” Mr Staunton told Judge Greally.

He said his client spent time as a child in America before moving back to his father’s home place in Donegal.

He said he is living in basic accommodation but he wanted to move there to distance himself from negative peers. Long was getting treatment for depression before he got involved in this, counsel submitted to the court.