suspended sentence | 

Woman who needed money for surgery in Turkey let man use bank account in €72k fraud

Jessica Serra said she had met a man on a night out who told her that if she allowed him to use her bank account, he would give her €3,000

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A woman who agreed to let a man she me on a night out to use her bank account in exchange for €3,000 she needed for surgery in Turkey has been given a suspended sentence.

The bank account of Jessica Serra, who was described as vulnerable, was then used to launder €72,000 stolen from Bus Éireann in a so-called email misdirection fraud.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that in October 2019, Bus Éireann received an email purporting to be from GoBus advising it of that company's new bank account details.

Staff at Bus Éireann updated its bank details for GoBus, and a few days later, €72,000 was paid from Bus Éireann to the new GoBus bank account.

Bank of Ireland subsequently contacted GoBus to inform it that it suspected fraudulent activity on its account. GoBus informed Bus Éireann of this, and it was discovered that the €72,000 paid by Bus Éireann was not received by GoBus.

Gardaí were contacted and the fraudulent bank account was frozen. A meeting was arranged between the bank and the holder of the bank account, Serra (30) of Margaret’s Road, Finglas, Dublin 18,

Gardaí attended this meeting and arrested Serra. Garda Conor O’Dwyer told the court that Serra informed them she had met a man on a night out who told her that if she allowed him to use her bank account, he would give her €3,000.

At the time, Serra hoped to travel to Turkey for surgery, but she declined the offer. The court heard that Serra was quoted €6,000 for her surgery in Turkey, and she reconsidered the offer and contacted the man. When her bank account was frozen, only €44,000 was present.

Gda O’Dwyer told the court that Serra has no previous convictions and is from Italy originally. She has previously worked as a babysitter and for Dunnes Stores.

Mr Diarmuid Collins, BL, defending, told the court that his client has significant mental health issues and suffers from depression. During her garda interview, Serra was visibly upset and feared that as her father is in poor health, she may never see him again.

Mr Collins told the court that Serra is a vulnerable and easily manipulated woman.

Judge Martin Nolan said the accused acted recklessly and knew that she was acting wrongfully when she took the money. Her early guilty plea, her full admissions and lack of any previous convictions would all be considered as mitigating factors.

Judge Nolan sentenced the accused to two years in prison but suspended it in full under the conditions that she keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

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