A Clare based garda and a Castlebar meat factory worker were both taken in by an elaborate Donedeal.ie scam operated by a professional gang, which has featured on Crimeline.
Details of the car scam, which has left Lithuanian born and Castlebar based Dainius Rasinskos out of pocket to the tune of €13,000, emerged at Castlebar District Court this week.
Judge Mary Devins heard how Dermot O’Brien, a Garda member, advertised his own private car - a 2012 Toyota Avensis - for sale on Donedeal.ie last September.
A man calling himself Tony Smith responded to the advertisement and agreed to buy the car for €19,250.
A man purporting to be a co-worker for Tony Smith arrived to Ennis Train Station where Mr O’Brien met him and handed over the paperwork and the vehicle in exchange for a bank draft.
As it was after office hours on a Friday afternoon, it was Monday morning before Mr O’Brien was informed by a bank manager that the bank draft was fraudulent. In fact, the fake draft boasted the logo of the now defunct Irish Nationwide bank.
Meanwhile, a few days later, Rasinskos, who lives in Carrabeag, Castlebar, saw a Toyota Avensis advertised on Donedeal.ie for €13,500.
He met a man claiming to act on behalf of the seller of the vehicle at a forecourt of a garage in Palmerstown Dublin.
After looking the car over, Rasinskos bargained the price down by €500 because of a noise in the engine compartment and completed the deal, not suspecting at any stage that there was anything untoward about the transaction.
Shortly thereafter, Rasinskos brought the car to his mechanic to investigate the engine noise. This was when the alarm was raised as to the legitimacy of the car purchase.
Rasinskos contacted his solicitor and the car was handed over to the Garda, where it has since remained.
Judge Mary Devins heard from solicitor James Ward, acting for Rasinskos, that his client was an unfortunate and entirely innocent victim of the scam.
The scam is believed by gardaí to be operated by a professional gang, who have yet to be tracked down. It has been repeated 10 times around the country. The gang use fake names and unregistered SIM cards in the phones used to contact the victims.
It emerged Rasinskos never legally took ownership of the car because the original transaction between the so-called Tony Smith and Mr O’Brien was voided once the bank draft was reported to the gardaí as fraudulent.
Judge Devins ordered the return of the vehicle to Mr O’Brien. She said the case was ‘shocking’.