Friday 23 February 2018

Romanian shop owner avoids jail over €9,000 bank scam

Conor Gallagher

A SHOP owner who took part in a €9,000 online banking scam has avoided a jail sentence.

Radu Budai (28), who runs a Romanian shop and restaurant on Bolton Street in Dublin, allowed his account to be used to store money which had been defrauded from AIB customers.

Budai, of Premier Square, Finglas, pleaded guilty to recklessly handling stolen property on September 29, 2011.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told that two customers received a text message purportedly from the bank stating the online banking website was down due to technical difficulties. It told them to use a different website which the scammers had set up.

The customers entered their security details into this site and the scammers used these to steal money from their accounts and transfer it into Budai’s AIB account. Minutes later, Budai visited two separate AIB branches and withdrew all the money. He later gave it to an unnamed person.

One customer lost €5,000 and the other lost €4,100.

Detective Garda James Morrow told prosecuting counsel, John Fitzgerald BL, that Budai was identified on CCTV at the bank and arrested soon after. In interview, Budai told gardai a man had come into his shop and asked to use his account to put money into so he could pay his employees.

Det Gda Morrow said they did not know who sent the texts or set up the fake website and doubted Budai had the relevant technical knowledge. The money was never recovered but Budai has since raised €9,100 to repay the bank.

Defence counsel John Gallagher BL said it was inevitable that Budai would be caught as the account the money went into was in his own name. He said Budai did not know he was involved with a scam and that he was reckless when he agreed to allow the other man use his account.

Mr Gallagher told Judge Martin Nolan that both customers have been reimbursed and it was AIB who suffered the loss.

“So the people of Ireland suffered the loss,” Judge Nolan replied.

Counsel added Budai is heavily involved in the Romanian community in Ireland and donates to local charities.

Judge Nolan said Budai must have suspected the other man involved was a criminal and said his cover story was “spurious”. He imposed a four-year sentence which he suspended for four years.

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