Suspected €1.76m fraud carried out at post office since January
Published 20/07/2011 | 05:00
A SUSPECTED €1.76m fraud at a post office began at the start of the year, the Irish Independent has learned.
Internal audits have indicated the accounts at Gorey post office in Co Wexford balanced up to Christmas.
But investigators believe cash began to be siphoned off from the accounts from January and this continued until three weeks ago when the suspected crime was discovered.
Investigators are still trying to fully determine how the suspected fraud was carried out and inquiries in the post office are continuing.
Detectives from the garda bureau of fraud investigation have been called in to assist local officers.
However, gardai are awaiting further detailed briefings from An Post before stepping up their inquiries.
Meanwhile, a senior manager in the Gorey branch, Tony O'Reilly, who went missing as the suspected fraud was uncovered at the end of June, has begun a treatment programme to help him cope with a gambling addiction and has been transferred from the hospital where he initially received medical help.
An Post last night confirmed Mr O'Reilly (36) remained on paid leave from his post.
After Mr O'Reilly turned up unharmed in Belfast four days after his disappearance, his family issued a statement admitting that their son had a gambling addiction, which had spiralled out of control in recent months.
Mr O'Reilly had been a heavy gambler for the past few years and had a long spell of success as a punter before his luck deserted him.
It is understood several million euro had been wagered in betting transactions over that period, including winning as well as losing bets. A large proportion of the bets were placed through online and telephone services provided for customers by a bookmaking firm.
In their statement, the family blamed the availability of those facilities for their son's "predicament".
The family said Tony was "a family man, first and foremost" and his gambling in recent months had been secretive and uncharacteristic.
Mr O'Reilly was reported as missing when he left his home in Carlow town but failed to turn up at the post office in Gorey.
He was later located by the PSNI in Belfast and medical attention was sought for him.
The family said they were seeking help for Tony to recover from "this illness, which is plaguing families across the country".
They added they believed the addiction should be highlighted to prevent other families going through the trauma and torment that they had experienced.
Meanwhile, An Post is expected to examine its audit procedures at other post offices around the country after it completes the internal inquiries at Gorey.