Ex-Ireland hockey star Catriona Carey accused of scamming people in mortgage debt
RTÉ exposé reveals details of fraud conviction and complaints over service helping debtors
Former Irish sports star Catriona Carey was convicted of theft and fraud after forging a cheque from a hairdresser who had hired her as his accountant.
The Kilkenny businesswoman, who played hockey for Ireland and camogie for her county, was found guilty of altering the details of a cheque for €6,948 and cashing it.
Now, an RTÉ Investigates documentary has revealed details of her conviction and has focused on her business dealings, accusing her of scamming people struggling to make mortgage payments out of thousands of euro through a scheme that offered to buy debt from their lender at a discount.
Between February 7 and 9, 2018, she had changed a cheque which had been made out to the Collector General by instead making it payable to herself.
The cheque was then cashed at a Bank of Ireland branch in Parliament Street, Kilkenny.
She was later charged under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act and received an eight-month suspended sentence.
Ms Carey trained as an accountant and is director and owner of a company called Careysfort Asset Estates Ltd, registered in England.
The RTÉ report revealed she came up with a scheme which she claimed would help those in financial distress by clearing their debt and enabling them to stay in their homes.
Ms Carey wanted a deposit up front, asking clients for between 10pc and 30pc of the proposed new loan.
They borrowed the money from family and credit unions, thinking this would bring an end to their financial woes.
Some paid the deposits in cash, while others were allegedly asked to wire money to a Careysfort Asset Estates account in Belgium or in Germany, the programme said.
Ms Carey told prospective clients that Careysfort Asset Estates would buy their debt from their lender at a discount and then the outstanding balance would be written off as a bad debt. Careysfort would then provide a new loan with lower monthly repayments to the clients and make its profit from the interest rate.
However, many of the deals have yet to materialise.
A number of her clients have alleged they are still waiting for Careysfort Asset Estate to complete the deal more than a year later and are continuing to receive letters from their providers about the outstanding debt.
One man, Colin Finnegan, told RTÉ how a barrister had introduced him to Ms Carey in 2019.
Mr Finnegan had previously run a successful haulage business and had offered to buy his parents' home, shop and coal yard. However, he lost his work contract due to the financial crash and could not make the repayments.
"It was my grandfather's home; it is in the family a hundred years," he said.
"You don't like to lose your family home, especially to see your parents being put out on the road. That was a massive worry."
In late 2020, Ms Carey told him the mortgage company was preparing the contracts for final signing in January 2021. More than six months later, there was still no sign the deal had gone through.
It was then he came across the property on auction site Bidx1.
He contacted Ms Carey about this and she responded: "Our team put this up as part of our strategy. Please keep this to yourself and we do not want others to know how we work. We have this already bought as explained many times."
It transpired a neighbour had successfully purchased the property after bidding on it.
Around 18 people, who collectively paid around €500,000 in deposits, spoke to RTÉ.
Secretly recorded conversations showed how she claimed her company was flush with cash.
Asked to comment on RTÉ's allegations, she said she could not breach "strict" client confidentiality.
She also said her company had funds to "cover all clients deposits", but said: "We are not advised to refund clients at this point."
More than a dozen people have reported her to gardaí.
Ms Carey remains a director of a number of businesses in Ireland and the UK, including Careysfort Asset Estates Ltd, the company highlighted by the RTÉ investigation.
She has been involved in business for more than a decade.
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