"THERE'S no fool like an old fool," a retired Customs and Excise officer said when a sophisticated banking scam involving himself and a Nigerian criminal was uncovered.
Eoin Breslin (64), of 19 Cullairbaun, Athenry, Co Galway, appeared before Galway Circuit Court where he pleaded guilty to six sample charges of forgery and theft from Bank of Ireland, Eyre Square, Galway.
Garda Marie Connelly said Breslin was contacted online by a criminal based in Lagos who claimed he needed help in freeing money that was tied up in a cotton plantation in Africa.
The man told Breslin he would send him American Express travellers cheques which he was to lodge into his own bank account here. He told the accused he could keep 10pc of the money provided he withdrew the remaining 90pc and sent it back to him in Lagos.
On six dates from October to December 2010, Breslin received a magazine in the post with a fake travellers cheque hidden inside.
Breslin lodged six fake American Express travellers cheques, totalling €22,900, into his account during that three-month period. He withdrew 90pc of each cheque, totalling €19,982, which he sent by money transfer to the man in Lagos.
He kept €2,918, or 10pc, for himself as agreed.
Gda Connelly said that staff at Bank of Ireland contacted her about the scam in February last year and when she interviewed Breslin at his home in Athenry he immediately admitted his involvement, adding: "There's no fool like an old fool."
Judge Gerard Griffin said the only aggravating factor was that Breslin fell for this very sophisticated scam, so sophisticated in fact that even staff at Bank of Ireland and American Express, fell for it.
He then sentenced Breslin to 12 months in prison on each of the six charges to run concurrently and suspended the entire sentence for three years.