At least one Irish person lost $100,000 (€74,330) to a Yale legal researcher who promised to obtain US visas for hundreds of Irish victims, an Irish-born private detective has said.
Olwyn Triggs, who is investigating Yale researcher and immigration adviser, Ralph Cucciniello, said that she had been flooded with people calling to tell her that they were also caught up in the alleged scheme. She said the number of Irish people affected may be over 200.
A Kilkenny woman who lost $30,000 told The Irish Timesthat Cucciniello convinced dozens of people to part with $5,000 to obtain a US green card and then convinced some to buy shares in an investment scheme.
Mr Cucciniello, who has previous convictions for fraud, kept an office at the Yale Law Library where he arranged meetings.
One Irish client remembered him joking about a baseball game with a Yale security guard on his way to the office. Mr Cucciniello has been charged in New York with grand larceny and impersonating an attorney and is likely to face further charges in Yale's home state of Connecticut.
Alleged victims from Dublin and Kilkenny said that Cucciniello came across as very convincing initially, but used a series of long-winded excuses when they did not obtain their green cards.
All three people interviewed said that Mr Cucciniello spent lavishly on some of his victims.
One Kilkenny woman said that she paid $10,000 to obtain green cards for herself and her boyfriend and then invested a further $20,000 in the Yale investment scheme.
She said Mr Cucciniello took her boyfriend on two trips to Las Vegas and said that she also went on one of the trips.
One Dublin man living in Florida said that Mr Cucciniello sent an assistant down to Florida to meet them and paid for them to take a trip back to Ireland.
"He had a Yale e-mail address, used the Yale Fed-Ex courier office and had us sign cheques to a Yale immigration service. It all seemed so legitimate," he said.