Monday 22 January 2018

Farmer 'dedicated to good causes' convicted of fraud

Paddy Clancy

A MAN who ran an investment company called Pear Shaped Resources has been convicted of depriving investors of €177,000.

The jury took just 62 minutes at the end of a five-day trial to convict Thomas Elvin, a small farmer with 17 acres and 20 cows, of all 26 charges against him.

Elvin (50) whose company was based in the British Virgin Islands, claimed at Donegal Circuit Court he was a penniless Bible-believer who wanted to raise millions for good causes. But the jury believed he wanted to finance himself.

During the trial, Elvin's defence lawyer had claimed his client had none of the trappings of a con, with no Ferrari car and no yacht in Donegal Bay.

Elvin operated from a computer on his farm at Meencargagh, Ballybofey, Co Donegal, through an internet contact with a US aide, Larry Marsella. The court was told Mr Marsella had a plan to raise 25pc profit a day on high-risk investments on international currency exchanges through a system known as forex.

Florida-based Mr Marsella was linked to a company called Loan Doctors and he also worked for Pear Shaped.

Elvin admitted to the jury that he hoped to turn $50,000 (€38,300) into $98m (€75m) in between 30 and 45 days. But he claimed that Mr Marsella, whom he trusted, duped him.

Elvin's own counsel, Desmond Murphy, said he locked himself into a delusional world through the dangers of the computer and the internet. His victims told the jury that he never mentioned the forex currency operation or that he was putting their money into high-risk investments.

The jury was told the forex system could raise millions for relatively small sums in seconds but millions more could be lost.

Elvin only sent €33,500 to Mr Marsella and kept all the rest. None of the money was returned and none of the victims received a single penny in the operation between 2003 and 2005.

Elvin had met his victims in plush hotels and at their homes. The victims included a former pub owner and a family with a shop in Donegal town.

Elvin, who was convicted of operating as an illegal investor and deceiving seven people of their cash between 2003 and 2005, was remanded on bail for sentence on March 27 with a recommendation that he undergo psychological assessment.

Irish Independent

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