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Two members of US-based Irish Traveller community accused of being driveway scammers

Investigator Alan Gravley told local broadcaster WRDW that he examined the men’s pick-up truck where they claimed to have tar to carry out the driveway work

Alan SherrySunday World

Police in the American state of Virginia have arrested two men they said were part of an US-based Irish Traveller community who were claiming to be driveway sealers.

Brandon Reilly (41) and his nephew Tommy Carroll (28) were arrested by Hillsville Police Department after complaints that they had been calling door-to-door offering to carry out work on driveways.

They were caught with drugs including methamphetamine and found to not have any equipment to carry out the work.

A spokesperson for the police department said: “Because of a call from a Hillsville concerned citizen and a subsequent post on social media by a different individual, HPD was able to quickly locate, investigate, and arrest these two "driveway sealers" from North Augusta, SC on several charges, including; failing to purchase a town "door to door" sales license, obstruction of justice, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of Buprenorphine/Naloxone "Suboxone" (without a prescription).”

Investigator Alan Gravley told local broadcaster WRDW that he examined the men’s pick-up truck where they claimed to have tar to carry out the driveway work.

“Guess what? They didn’t have any hot tar,” Gravley said. “That barrel hadn’t been used in probably 10 years.”

He said they were members of an Irish Traveller community close to North Augusta, South Carolina – more than 400km south of Hillsville.

An area known as Murphy Village just outside North Augusta has the largest and most affluent community of Irish Travellers in the US with more than 2,000 people.

The community settled in the area in 1940 after Irish priest Fr Joseph Murphy inherited a parish there and encouraged them to set up camp next to the church.

The area hit the headlines in 2016 after the FBI carried out a lengthy investigation into a series of frauds carried out by some members of the community and their associates which led to more than 50 people pleading guilty to various federal charges.

They also seized luxury cars and properties as part of the investigation.

An FBI indictment said at the time said: “Murphy Village was founded by 'Travellers,' a self-identified group of itinerant laborers and salesmen who offer services door to door.

"The men will 'travel' to other states during favourable weather to work in various construction-related jobs, while the women generally will remain in Murphy Village.”

The indictment went on to describe Murphy Village as “insular and isolated”.

“The Travellers speak a unique dialect of English and Gaelic, which is called "Cant," in addition to normal English. Travelers refer to non-Travelers as "country people.

"Many of the defendants are Travelers and reside in Murphy Village where they own large homes, luxury cars and expensive jewelry and clothes, which are often acquired through the fraud schemes or acquired with the proceeds of the fraud schemes described below."

The indictment said the crimes included insurance fraud, defrauding financial institutions as well as fraudulently obtaining money through food stamp and Medicaid fraud schemes, clocking cars, and claiming tax and credits they weren’t entitled to.

More than 50 people pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges arising out of the case with several receiving jail terms in federal prison.

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