Having caused others to lose their homes, she has lost her own home in Kilkenny, after reneging on mortgage payments for a decade. Her white 2020 BMW, bought for €55,000 drawn from her clients’ money, is locked up in a garda compound.
But financial recordsevoke the spending sprees of Christmases past — funded from deposits lodged to Catriona Carey’s company bank account.
The records show how Carey’s company racked up €20,000 on personal expenditure in December 2019; more than €13,500 in 2020; and then fell to €9,000 last December, as funds ran dry in the UK bank account.
Carey’s lavish expenditure of client funds was first revealed in an RTÉ Investigatesdocumentary broadcast last February. Eighteen people claimed Carey conned them out of tens of thousands of euro, by promising to refinance their loans for a fee. The new loans never materialised — and some people lost their homes.
The documentary revealed that around €200,000 of €400,000 lodged to Carey’s company account was spent on holidays, clothes and travel.
Big-ticket items included a €7,000 holiday in Switzerland; a trip to Miami, Florida, that cost a total of around €20,000 (including a bill of close to €1,000 at an Armani store); and €55,000 drawn out of the company account in July 2020 to buy a white BMW.
The scale of personal spending, detailed in the hundreds of pages of financial records, tells the story of Catriona Carey. There are hundreds of daily transactions — from takeaways, to parking fees to supermarket shops.
Catriona Carey, sister of former Kilkenny hurler DJ Carey, was a sports star in her own right, playing camogie for Kilkenny and racking up 72 caps for Ireland in hockey.
She was also involved in a string of different companies. Carey registered Careysfort Assets Estates in the UK in October 2018. By 2019 she was claiming to be a high-flying international financier with a €1bn budget to help distressed mortgage holders. None of that was true.
But by November 2019, Carey was actively recruiting distressed mortgage holders to her scheme. She asked them to transfer deposits of between €10,000, €30,000 and sometimes €60,000 to a Careysfort Asset Estates Ltd bank account in the UK.
Funds mounted up quickly. The balance on her company account was zero when the first deposit of €20,000 arrived on November 19, 2019. Over the following six weeks, six people lodged a total of €175,000 between them.
The withdrawals started as soon as funds hit the account. The day after that initial €20,000 lodgement, €20,000 was transferred out of the company account to a tool company. But the deposits kept coming, funding daily visits shopping trips that included purchases at Gamestop in Kilkenny (€333.65), Tommy Hilfiger in Dundrum (€573), and €4,225 on Apple.
The records show how the company card followed a familiar trail through Carey’s home ground in Kilkenny, clocking up almost daily expenditure at the Circle K, close to her home, as well as the luxurious Mount Juliet hotel estate (€236). On December 13, €7,048 was transferred to the four-star Alpen Resort Hotel in Switzerland, ahead of a new year holiday.
By New Year’s Eve, Carey’s company account balance was at €114,000.
Days after returning from the trip to Zermatt, Carey’s company card was whipped out again, on January 6, 2020, to pay €785 to EZ Living Furniture and €2,080 to Welch Sports.
Later that month the card was produced on trips to Kildare Village, to pay the €759.25 bill at one of Carey’s favourite stores, Moncler, the luxury sportswear brand, as well as a €270 bill for facials.
In February 2020, Carey was convicted in Kilkenny District Court, after forging a €6,948 cheque for her own benefit. But she drew on clients’ deposits to repay the money she’d stolen from local hair salon owner Nigel Kenny. She received a suspended eight-month sentence.
New clients continued to transfer deposits to Careysfort in 2020 — but they were fewer in number. The last deposit to Carey’s company account was a sum of €35,000 — lodged on November 19, 2020 by a new client.
On December 1, 2020, Careysfort had a balance of €109,969. That Christmas, the funds dissipated with staggering speed.
There were spends of €195 in Newbridge Lifestyle on December 2 and a day later €335.90 at Harvey Norman in Waterford. On December 4, another trip to Kildare Village, where Carey’s company card paid the €1627.85 bill at Moncler, €109.99 in Ralph Lauren, €129 in Reiss and €359 in Escada.
Later the card was used to pay for goods worth €859 in Helen Turkington Interiors in Stillorgan, Dublin, followed by €89.62 at a nearby Dunnes Stores. Around €570 was transferred to Facial Rejuve in Stillorgan the same day.
On New Year’s Eve 2020, there was €80,897.10 in Carey’s company bank account. It was the last of the cash. There were no further deposits from clients.
Over the following 12 months the funds frittered away, as Carey continued to draw on the account to fund day-to-day expenses. The hundreds of transactions listed range from a €1.50 parking fee in Kilkenny, purchases at Circle K petrol stations, Gamestops, Elvery Sports, trips to McDonald’s and Just Eats take-outs, as well as bills for facials, chiropractors and motor tax.
By August 23, the funds in Carey’s company account were down to €18,756.37.
By December 1, 2021, there was just €3,795.21 left in the company account. The days of big spending were over. Of the 80 transactions on company account that month, only four were more than €100 — a chemist’s bill for €127 five days before Christmas; a petrol station bill for €108; a Sky subscription for €162.99; and €111 to pay motor tax online.
On New Year’s Day 2022, Carey was down to €915.04.
The convicted fraudster — now using a company card issued in her own name — limited her spending to petrol stations, take-outs and supermarkets around Kilkenny. By January 28 this year, there was €488.10 in the company bank account. Weeks later, RTÉ Investigateswas broadcast.
Attempts to contact Carey this weekend were unsuccessful.
In her only interview, Carey told the Sunday Worldshe was unaware of the fraud, but was “entitled to some wages”. She blamed the fraud on an associate, claimed she was “the fall guy”, and said: “It wasn’t like I was the only one taking money out of the company. I was comfortable to do so.”
At least 45 people are believed to have come forward to An Garda Síochána since February. Carey’s house was searched and the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau is investigating bank accounts linked to her in Europe and the UK.
Andrew Hickey, who has lost a €15,000 deposit to Carey, organised a WhatsApp group for victims of the scam. He said the group is “sickened” by the revelations in the financial statements, particularly by bank transfers totalling around €30,000 to one of Carey’s associates.
“I’ve had calls from three people who were involved in similar transactions with Carey, and they won’t come forward to An Garda Síochána because they don’t believe they will get their money back.
“Some people complained as far back as 2018 and 2019 and they got nowhere. They were told it was a civil case,” he said.
“Switzerland, skiing, buying stuff in boutiques, while knowing she had not a single [mortgage] contract over the line. People are sickened by it.”