Kilkenny Fraudster dupes €490,000 from innocent victims

Victims out of pocket following internet scam

Mary Cody

Reporter:

Mary Cody

Email:

mary.cody@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny Fraudster dupes €490,000 from innocent victims

Mary Cody mary.cody@kilkennypeople.ie@marygcody

A fraudster who duped people out of their hard-earned cash was sentenced to four years in prison at Kilkenny Circuit Court.

Martin Holden, Garrigue, Mullinavat pleaded guilty to 28 counts under Theft and Fraud Offences Act on dates over a five-year period dating from 2007 and 2012.

Detective Garda Kevin Nolan told the court that the defendant was advertising heavy plant machinery on various different dates and that the defendant did not have possession of the machinery. The machinery was advertised on a number of websites including mylittlesalesman.ie, donedeal and other sites.

Interested customers would make contact and in some cases they would forward either a deposit or the full amount. In total there were 15 injured parties including people from America, Saudi Arabia and Europe and the total value of the money that was stolen amounted to €490,000.

One of the injured parties, a Chicago-based businessman managed to retrieve €16,000 but the remainder was not retrieved.

The court heard evidence relating to one of the injured parties who had seen machinery advertised in February 2011.

The injured party agreed to transfer the money and was told that once this was done he would be able to collect the machinery in Naas. The injured party agreed and came to Ireland to collect the machine. When he arrived at the airport he called the defendant who said that he was out of the country in the Netherlands and would meet him in two days time.

The injured party called him two days later and the defendant said that he would meet him that evening. He never met him and the injured party reported the matter to gardai.

Another injured party travelled from New York after paying over $8,000 as a deposit for a Caterpillar wheel loader between July and September 2011. When the injured party arrived in Dublin he called the injured party who said he was in the UK. The defendant never met with the injured party.

The court heard that the monies were paid into a number of Irish bank accounts and then transferred to a Lithuanian bank account. Holden spent the monies 'maintaining his lifestyle over a five-year period' and told the court that he has no assets. The court also heard that a variety of different emails were used by the defendant.

Defence counsel said that his client had defrauded people and that 'when the money was gone there was very little he (Holden) could do apart from plead guilty'.

Holden absconded from the jurisdiction in July 2012 after a significant amount of pleas had been entered.

“It was an erroneous decision to leave the jurisdiction,” his counsel said. He asked the judge to consider his client's remorse and his personal circumstances.

Judge Cormac Quinn remarked that the 50-year-old had committed fraud on strangers 'peppered across the globe' adding that 'the fraudulent intent is clearly apparent'.

“The total amount of moeny is now short of half a million. The elephant in the room is where is that money?”

Judge Quinn remarked that the offences happened after the economy crashed when machinery was been sold cheaply and therefore there was interest from abroad.

The defendant has no previous convictions and comes from a reputable family. The court heard that at the time of the offences the defendant 'had fallen on hard times'.

“There was an element of planning and a system was put in place. He preyed on foreigners and created fake bills and invoices. An aggravating factor is that he continued to offend while he was on bail.

“A lot of people after the recession fell on hard times but that does not justify this,” he added.

Judge Quinn stated that he would take into account the early plea and the family circumstances of the defendants as well as a number of reports that were handed into the court.

He imposed a prison sentence of four years.