Keith Flynn, 46, and Lyndsey Clarke, 37, of Blarney Street, Cork City, previously pleaded guilty to the fraud conspiracy resulting from a Garda investigation into the theft of funds from a number of banks and financial institutions over a period of Jan. Months revealed period.
Detective Garda Alan McCarthy told the court that the couple created 80 fake accounts with 60 fake identities to defraud the Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank, and a number of credit unions by obtaining dishonest personal bank loans.
He said the criminal activities of the couple, who have a three-month-old child, began in January 2017 when they started applying for personal bank loans using fake identities.
The couple, who met eight years ago while Ms. Clarke was working for Mr. Flynn in his law firm, took out a number of loans from financial institutions with fake identities.
The banks and credit unions have a loss of € 394,804 due to the couple’s criminal activities.
Prosecutor Siobhan Lankford said the couple actually run an “identity factory.”
Det Garda McCarthy said the couple applied for loans with fake online driver’s licenses, fake bank statements and fake pay slips.
They even paid members of the homeless community for their PPS numbers to use in their criminal activities.
They also used fake bills from Virgin Media, Airtricity and Electric Ireland and had 30 SIM cards with different contact numbers.
In September 2017, the Financial Crime Department at Bank of Ireland became suspicious of activity on six accounts and contacted gardaí.
An investigation has been launched and, in July 2018, a search was conducted of an apartment the couple lived in in Well, Cork, on Sunday.
The couple was not present during the search. Gardaí brought back laptops, wigs for disguises and a locked safe.
More than € 92,000 was salvaged from the safe that was opened after Clarke and Flynn volunteered a key.
When Gardaí opened the safe, they found 21 fake Irish driver’s licenses, 19 fake bank cards and 16 Credit Union books in various names.
Det Garda McCarthy said the couple opened 19 fake accounts with the Bank of Ireland in Cork and Dublin, 19 fake Credit Union accounts, 19 fake accounts with AIB and three fake accounts with Ulster Bank. Loans have been approved with all of these institutions.
They also had fake accounts with An Post, Permanent TSB and KBC, but no loans were approved on those accounts.
Det Garda McCarthy said the loan applications were “a quick enough process” for the couple, who had an extensive operation.
He said the defendants had fully cooperated with Gardaí in their arrest. They admitted guilt in Garda interviews in August 2018. They said they were only motivated by financial gains.
Det Garda McCarthy said Flynn had, in addition to his young child with Clarke, two children from a previous marriage who had collapsed.
He opened his first law firm in Cork in 2006 before opening a second in Dublin in 2012.
He said Clarke was a mother of two, one from a previous relationship, and their three-month-old with Flynn. She started working for Flynn in 2012.
The court heard that if the case had been brought to trial, it would contain an extensive document path, each with more than 300 counts.
Alice Fawsitt, SC, who represents Clarke, said her client and Flynn volunteered to hand over the keys to the safe.
She stressed that while they defrauded the banks, they saved the state a tremendous amount of money by being guilty and avoiding a lawsuit.
She told Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin that her client had a history of depression.
She said that at no point did Clarke attempt to blame her husband, but rather insisted that she was an equal participant in the program.
Clarke, she said, lost her father in his twenties, and her mother died too. Ms. Fawsitt said Clarke was an only child with no family support other than an aunt.
She said her client had no idea how she got herself into this situation, but she was desperate to get her personal affairs in order before she went to jail.
Ms. Fawsitt asked to be held on bail for a few days in order to sort out her family affairs.
Seamus Roche, SC, who represents Flynn, said his client lost his family and business and was depressed after going bankrupt. The court heard that the couple had shown a wrong decision in engaging in the criminal activity.
Flynn was held on custody until Friday, while Ms. Flynn was released on bail until then to make arrangements for her children.
The couple were separated as lawyers in 2018 on matters completely separate from this Garda investigation.
They were suspended in 2016 but weren’t canceled until two years later. They were disappointed because they failed to properly perform their duties in what was considered to be a “chaotic” practice. The couple stopped training in November 2016.
Free assistance was given to the couple when the couple first appeared in the Cork District Court on the charges.
The court heard that Flynn was working as a cook while Clarke was working on a back-to-work program.
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