But Sharon O’Riordan rejected Carey’s attempts to diminish her own responsibility, saying: “Both of them scammed us.”
Speaking with the Sunday World at her home in picturesque Castletown, Cork this week, HSE chef Sharon – who fell behind on her Start Mortgage after being ill – confirmed she had dealt with this individual but said it was not until October 2020, after she had first met Carey.
When told Catriona Carey was now claiming it was this associate who was the ringleader of the fraud, Sharon said it was Carey, and not this other man, who met her and took €5,000 from her in cash.
“The only person I met from 2019 was Catriona Carey,” Sharon told us.
“She’s the only one who corresponded with me through text messages, phone calls and email.
“I never heard of anyone else being involved until October of 2021 when her father was not well and she went to look after him.”
Sharon said it was at this point the man Carey has identified to the Sunday World as the ‘ringleader’ in the scam, informed her he was taking over the running of Carey’s affairs during this period.
“I was trying to make contact with Catriona and there was no news from her.
“I couldn’t get through at all and he contacted me to say he was taking over – [he was] looking after people at the moment because Catriona’s father was dying.
“Any problems or issues and we were to contact him because he would do everything to help out.”
Asked whether this man had made any promises to her in relation to the difficulties she was having in getting her contracts back, Sharon said: “He told me there was issues with the solicitor and with the different court cases he was having.
“This went on for the best part of three or four weeks and it was every second day there was a phone call or an email or something.
“By the time I finished up with him, he had told me he had physically and personally put my contracts in the post and I would have them the next day.
“The next day came and there was no contract.
“I made contact – it was the next day again, the next day again.
“At that stage, I kind of gave up. I knew they didn’t exist at all.
“And I waited until I next spoke to Catriona Carey, which I believe was around the start of November, and I called her out on it.
“And up to the last minute she denied any knowledge that there was anything going wrong.
Asked whether there was any difference between what Catriona was promising and what this individual was promising, Sharon said there was “none at all”.
“Both of them were very enthusiastic,” said Sharon, and claimed that the stories going around at that stage were just people with issues with her over failed contracts and other things.
“And there was always just another problem, either a court hearing going on or something else – there was always something going on.
“They came up with the most amazing reasons for not having the contracts ready.”
Asked whether she would accept Carey’s claims that it was the ‘associate who was the ringleader,’ Sharon said: “I would say they are equally responsible.
“Because both of them knew that there was no solicitor, both of them knew there was no contracts, both of them took money and both of them scammed us!”
Asked if she named Carey’s associate while giving her statements at Midleton Garda station in Cork, Sharon confirmed to the Sunday World that she did.