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suspended sentence Man (76) lured into online scam avoids jail after €120k laundered through bank account

James O'Rourke was "sucked into a Facebook friendship" with a woman based in the United States and then "unwisely" allowed his account to be apparently used as part of an email redirect scheme

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James O’Rourke made contact with a woman via Facebook and allowed his account to be used

James O’Rourke made contact with a woman via Facebook and allowed his account to be used

James O’Rourke made contact with a woman via Facebook and allowed his account to be used

A pensioner has received a six-month suspended prison term after he got caught up in an internet scam and €120,000 was 'laundered' through his bank account.

James O'Rourke (76) admitted two charges of money laundering after an elaborate fraud in which the money passed through his bank account from firms in France and Sweden.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard he was "sucked into a Facebook friendship" with a woman based in the United States and then "unwisely" allowed his account to be apparently used as part of an email redirect scheme.

O'Rourke got involved in the activity to supplement his pension, the court heard.

The pensioner, with an address at Graball Bay, Crosshaven, Co Cork, fully co-operated with gardaí.

O'Rourke, who raised €1,500 in compensation, had suffered a financial loss from the entire affair, the court heard.

Brian Leahy, defending, said his client inadvertently got involved in criminality because of his innocence surrounding such internet scams.

Detective Garda James O'Reilly said the money lodged in the pensioner's accounts consisted of €52,000 sent from Sweden to O'Rourke's Bank of Ireland account in 2020 and sums of €29,000 and €40,000 transferred from France to his AIB account.

Both Irish banks triggered concerns over the nature of the transactions and gardaí were alerted.

O'Rourke was questioned by gardaí and acknowledged he was the individual in full control of both bank accounts.

Further investigations revealed the €52,000 payment originated from a company in Sweden and the other sums came from a firm in France.

The two companies involved had fallen victim to "email redirect frauds".

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Police forces in Sweden and France were already investigating the matter on receipt of formal complaints.

The €52,000 from Sweden was transferred by an unknown party to a bank account in Lithuania not long after it appeared in the Irish bank account of O'Rourke.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin was told O'Rourke had withdrawn just €1,570 from the monies sent from France.

O'Rourke had already been duped into investing €2,000 of his own funds into a programme to feed homeless people in Nigeria.

Mr Leahy said his client had never been in trouble with the law before being duped into getting involved in this arrangement.

"He got involved in this scam via Facebook. He invested €2,000 in a programme to feed homeless people in Nigeria, having been told he would treble his investment and get €6,000 back. He did this to supplement a meagre pension," the barrister said.

"He would not be hugely savvy with the internet and he was sucked into a Facebook friendship. He believed there was easy money to be made."

Judge Ó Donnabháin questioned how major alarm bells did not immediately sound for the pensioner over precisely what was going on.

"It would be all right for a 15-year-old to say something like that but your lad is 76 years old," the judge told the barrister.

Mr Leahy said individuals get caught up in such activities for a variety of reasons. The judge said "greed" was normally one of the main factors.

Mr Leahy said his client had been "duped" into investing in a scheme and was promised his investment would come to fruition.

He said O'Rourke deeply regretted having being duped into getting involved in the matter in the first place.

The lawyer said the entire matter had resulted in his client being at a financial loss.

Judge Ó Donnabháin imposed a six-month suspended sentence and O'Rourke gave the court an undertaking to keep the peace and to be of good behaviour.

When O'Rourke was asked outside court what he would advise people who were thinking of getting involved in such activities he said: "Don't."

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