Pair raked in €5m of investment through forestry 'Ponzi scheme', court is told
Two Dublin men ran a "Ponzi scheme" in which they induced dozens of people to invest more than €5m in a forestry investment scam, a court has heard.
Garret Hevey (43) and David Piele (42) were involved in Arden Forestry Management (Arden FM) between January 2014 and mid-2016 during which time 143 foreign investors were induced to deposit approximately €5.5m into the company's accounts.
Detective Inspector Catharina Gunne told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court these investments would have required around 858 acres of land to be serviced but the company only owned 30.2 acres of land when the fraud came to light.
The court heard that in company documentation sent to investors, Hevey used the pseudonym James Baker and Piele went by the name David Marshall.
Hevey was in charge and Piele second in command and there were a number of others employed in trying to attract investors.
Accounts linked to the firm showed that, of €501,332 transferred to Hevey, €281,613 was spent on Google Ads.
Gardaí began investigating the company in June 2016 when one investor, Kari Wahlstrom, discovered Arden were not the registered owner of the land he had invested in.
Mr Wahlstrom, a Finnish national, had invested €52,000 in February 2016 and in May contacted the company and asked to visit what had been identified as his investment. He also asked to be taken to the land registry.