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Enda the road Former election candidate jailed for her part in €400,000 fraud no longer a member of Fine Gael

Lyndsey Clarke (37) received just over 300 votes when she put her name forward for the party in the Cork North West Ward in the 2014 Cork City Council local elections.

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Lyndsey Clarke with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during the local elections in 2014

Lyndsey Clarke with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during the local elections in 2014

Lyndsey Clarke with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during the local elections in 2014

A former election candidate who was jailed yesterday for her part in a €400,000 banking and credit union fraud is no longer a member of Fine Gael, the party have said.

Lyndsey Clarke (37) received just over 300 votes when she put her name forward for the party in the Cork North West Ward in the 2014 Cork City Council local elections.

However, speaking following her conviction yesterday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, a party spokesperson said she was “no longer a member” although it was unclear when her membership ended.

Married couple Clarke, and Keith Flynn (46) who are both former solicitors, operated a so-called “identity factory” and were jailed for a total of six years.

Flynn was jailed for four years and Clarke for two by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin who said they had engaged in "a devious” and “criminally purposeful scheme” to target Irish financial institutions.

The pair, both with addresses at Blarney Street in Cork, admitted conspiracy to commit fraud following a Garda investigation into suspicious loans.

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Former solicitors Keith Flynn and Lyndsey Clarke. Photo: Cork Courts Limited

Former solicitors Keith Flynn and Lyndsey Clarke. Photo: Cork Courts Limited

Former solicitors Keith Flynn and Lyndsey Clarke. Photo: Cork Courts Limited

Gardaí launched the investigation after an alert Bank of Ireland security official became suspicious of patterns in loan applications in late 2017.

The charges related to various dates stretching over an 18-month period. Irish banks and credit unions were at a loss of €394,804.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard the duo created more than 60 fake identities, paid homeless people for their PPS numbers and even wore elaborate disguises, including wigs.

Last October, Detective Garda Alan McCarthy revealed the pair created 80 fake accounts using 60 false identities in order to defraud Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank and a number of credit unions by dishonestly obtaining personal loans.

The pair were essentially operating an “identity factory”, Siobhán Lankford SC, for the State, said,

Det-Garda McCarthy said the pair applied for loans using fake driving licences obtained online, fake bank statements and fake payslips.

They even paid members of the homeless community for their PPS numbers in order to use them in their criminal activity.

Both also used fake Virgin Media, Airtricity, and Electric Ireland bills and had 30 Sim cards with various contact numbers.

In September 2017, the Financial Crime Unit in Bank of Ireland became suspicious of activities in six accounts and alerted Gardaí.

An investigation was subsequently launched and in July 2018 a search was carried out at an apartment used by the duo in Sunday’s Well in Cork.

Gardaí recovered laptops, wigs used as disguises when they went to banks and ATMs, and a locked safe.

More than €92,000 was recovered from the safe which was opened after the duo voluntarily handed over a key.

That sum will now be divided between the financial institutions that suffered a loss over the fraud.

In the safe, Gardaí also found 21 fake Irish driving licences, 19 fake bank cards and 16 credit union books in different names.

Det-Garda McCarthy said the duo had opened 19 fake accounts with Bank of Ireland in Cork and Dublin, 19 fake credit union accounts, 19 fake accounts with AIB and three fake accounts with Ulster Bank.

They also had fake accounts with An Post, Permanent TSB and KBC but no loans were approved on those accounts.

Flynn opened his first law practice in 2006 in Cork before opening a second in Dublin in 2012.

Ms Clarke went to work for Mr Flynn at his legal practice nine years ago when the couple got to know each other.

The duo were struck off as solicitors in 2018 for separate and unrelated matters. Both had initially been suspended as solicitors in 2016.

A review of their practice at the time had found it to be "chaotic".

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