Friday 19 December 2014

Gardai seize €1m from pyramid scheme suspect

Tom Brady, Security Editor

Published 21/02/2014 | 02:30

The scam is believed to run into the millions
The scam is believed to run into the millions

Gardai have seized more than €1m in cash from two bank accounts held by a man suspected of helping to mastermind a massive investment fraud.

Officers from the National Fraud Bureau and Criminal Assets Bureau secured a High Court order to freeze the cash, which was being held in accounts in this country.

The move came after a lengthy investigation by the fraud bureau into a suspected scam, similar to a pyramid scheme, spanning five countries.

Inquiries have been carried out in Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK as well as here.

The investigation by officers from the fraud bureau over the past year focused on what was alleged last night to have been an investment fraud.

It is estimated that about €4m was involved in the scam and gardai say they are also inquiring into related money laundering. Officers think investors were lured into handing over cash to the fraudsters in the belief their money could be wisely placed to earn them big profits.

However, it has now turned into a major international investigation.

Following their inquiries, gardai arrested a man in Aughavas in south Leitrim and he was taken for questioning to Carrick-on-Shannon garda station.

He was still being held last night under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and can be detained without charge for up to 24 hours, excluding rest periods.

Gardai said last night that their investigation was ongoing and a large number of inquiries had yet to be completed.

During a search of the man's house yesterday morning, officers seized a computer and printer as well as a large amount of documentation.

The computer and printer will now be subjected to technical examination by specialist units while gardai will also sift through the documentation to determine if any of it is bogus.

Some of the investors, who lost money in the investment scheme, are based in this country but the majority of them traced so far are located overseas.

Gardai think some of those involved in the scheme also have connections outside this jurisdiction.

Officers are liasing with police in the four other jurisdictions to establish the overall extent of the suspected fraud and the related money laundering.

Irish Independent

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