A judge has directed that two fraudsters pay the €23,000 expenses a car rental company invested in tracking them down to their own front doors.
Judge Patrick Quinn heard in the Circuit Civil Court on Monday that private detectives formed part of an external and internal investigation probe by Hertz Rent-a-Car to prove the two Lithuanians had been part of a €180,000 fraud that collapsed in court.
The judge told barrister Martin Fitzgerald, counsel for Hertz, that the court had no difficulty in accepting that Rainmaldas Vaswitis and Vladimiras Zubko, based in Dublin and Co Cavan had rented a car to facilitate the fraud.
Mr Fitzgerald, who appeared with Hertz’s in-house solicitor Michael Brennan, told the court that Vaswitis had hired a Ford Fiesta at Dublin Airport in February 2015 and included Zubko as an additional driver so they could “crash” it into another car in a staged accident.
Counsel said the fiesta had collided with a Honda Civic at Holywell, Swords, Co Dublin, the day after it was rented. The minimal impact had led to three other Lithuanians bringing separate €60,000 personal injury claims totalling €180,000 which the trio withdrew on the morning their case was to be heard after learning at the last minute that the fraud had been uncovered.
The three men were Audrius Stelmokas, Julius Zivelis and Deividas Kaciukas, who all live in Dublin and who claimed they were in the Honda Civic when it was struck by the hired Fiesta.
Vaswitis, of Holywell Walk, Swords, and Zubko, of Bothar Glaustai, Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, although not bringing personal claims themselves against Hertz at the time were since proven to be part of the fraud, the court heard.
Mr Fitzgerald said that Ryan’s Investments, which trades as Hertz Rent-a-Car, had sued Vaswitis, and Subko for recovery of the cost of the internal and external investigation into their part in the set-up accident. The money spent on the probe, and some expenses not recovered against the other three in the earlier cases, had amounted to €23,390.
Judge Quinn granted a decree for the amount against the Ford Fiesta duo and said he had no difficulty in accepting proof of the fraud. He also congratulated the investigation team on the work they had put into uncovering the false claims and exposing the two facilitators.
A private investigator told the court he had uncovered, after weeks of surveillance, evidence that all five men involved in the set-up accident were acquainted despite having denied they knew each other.
Mr Fitzgerald said judgment had been obtained against both Vaswitis and Subko on the basis they had failed to enter any appearance in the Hertz proceedings against them.
He told the court that €1,500 had already been recovered by Hertz against the credit card of Mr Vaswitis, who had hired the Ford Fiesta, for repairs to the vehicle. He said Vaswitis had not queried the extra charge to his credit card.