Wednesday 25 April 2018

Dublin man bailed on €2.6m fraud ring charge in Australia

An Irishman accused of operating a fraud ring has been released on bail
An Irishman accused of operating a fraud ring has been released on bail
Adam Cullen

Adam Cullen

An Irishman accused of operating a multi-million euro "boiler room" fraud ring on Australia's Gold Coast has been released on bail with a $300,000 surety.

Steifan Ceitinn, who is also known as Stephen Keating, is accused of being one of the "ringleaders" in the scheme which has duped a minimum of €2.6m from up to 150 Australians over the last 18 months.

The Dublin native appeared before Southport Magistrates Court yesterday alongside fellow Irishman Neil McKenny.

Mr McKenny made no application for bail and will remain in custody until a further hearing on September 15. However, it is believed he will apply for bail later this month.

Magistrate John Costanzo said the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) alleged the men had defrauded unassuming victims, who purchased dysfunctional software packages for more than $18m since 2006. However, the accused yesterday faced only one fraud charge relating to an 18-month period.

The men were arrested during a series of dawn raids on Monday, following a joint CCC and Queensland Police Service investigation into the syndicate known as the 'Irish Boys'.

Australian brothers Daniel and Aaron East, who have both been released on bail of $200,000 and $150,000 respectively, were arrested alongside the two Irish men.

The court heard that all four had made arrangements to flee the country after police started to close in on their dealings.

Aaron East allegedly told his partners: "The customers feel the pain, we can take the plane", when they discovered that they had been under surveillance.

Their alleged scheme is believed to be similar to that used by infamous fraudster Jordan Belfort, whose exploits were immortalised by Leonardo DiCaprio in the hit movie 'The Wolf Of Wall Street'.

It is claimed that the gang offered victims large returns for investing in its trading software, which they said was able to predict moves in the commodity markets and was sold to members of the public using high-pressure, cold-calling methods.

It is believed the group targeted elderly and vulnerable members of the public - who had filled in bogus competition forms at fast food outlets and supermarkets.

The 'Irish Boys' syndicate employed at least 45 people in their call centres, one of which was located in a high-rise office building in Surfers Paradise, just south of Brisbane.

Two other people, a 50-year-old Brisbane man and a 24-year-woman, have also been charged with aggravated fraud.

They were both granted watch house bail and are due to appear in court in early September.

All those granted bail were forced to hand over their passports.

Irish Independent

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