Garda fraud squad to investigate HR troubleshooter after complaints from former clients, one of whom lost over €3,000

‘Watch Your Back Ireland’ was run by convicted fraudster Denyse O’Brien

Denyse O’Brien cheated a woman out of €3,000 in 2015

Ali Bracken

A convicted fraudster at the centre of allegations around her latest business venture has had her case assessed by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).

Denyse O’Brien, originally from Cork but believed to be living in Kerry, set up a human resource business called Watch Your Back Ireland.

Some of her former clients have contacted gardaí alleging she was hired and paid to do work on their behalf, which was not carried out.

These individual complaints are being dealt with at different garda stations around the country. It is understood O’Brien’s case has now been referred to the GNECB, commonly known as the fraud squad, and specialist officers are reviewing the case.

The specialist unit has not yet taken over the case, but it is expected it will do so.

“The GNECB have been made aware of the case. It would make more sense for the GNECB to take over this case, and that is probably what will happen but resources are a constant issue. But for the moment, individual garda stations are handling the investigations on a case-by-case basis,” a source said.

The website for Watch Your Back Ireland has been removed from the internet in recent weeks.​

The human resources company had purported to assist employees who believe they have been mistreated or wronged in the workplace.

The company was set up by O’Brien in 2019. She changed the spelling of her first name to “Denise” for the business venture.

In 2015 O’Brien pleaded guilty to fraud amounting to €3,000. At the time she was an organiser of a major charity event in Limerick, which collapsed after it emerged that she admitted to defrauding a woman of €3,000 on her debit card.

At least three former clients of Watch Your Back Ireland have raised concerns about how O’Brien handled their cases.

One woman made a complaint at Drogheda garda station on November 3 last year. This woman said she paid O’Brien almost €3,800 for her services, and alleged O’Brien did not undertake much of the work she claimed to be doing on her behalf.

The woman’s case against her employer has yet to be resolved at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). Watch Your Back Ireland is no longer assisting her.

She alleged she was “completely fooled” and has outlined to gardaí her business dealings with O’Brien.

Before it was taken down, O’Brien stated on the website: “Like most of us, I only ever associated HR with ‘being in trouble’ at work because I had no positive experience of HR for a long time as an employee.

“Sadly, this is often the experience for people who come to us for advice for different things like bullying, unfair dismissal, returning to work after sick leave and so on.

“I noticed a gap in the market for HR advice for both employers and employees, so I took myself off to study human resource management at UCD.”

In 2015, O’Brien, then of Sruthain an Padraig, Rhebogue, Limerick, pleaded guilty to fraud amounting to €3,000.

O’Brien’s solicitor told the court the fraud had “coincided with a very difficult period” in O’Brien’s life.