Sixteen months jail term for ‘sophisticated’ credit card scam

American woman’s vigilance foils fraud plans, court hears

Texan Jaclyn Underwood whose vigilance led to the arrests.

Texan Jaclyn Underwood whose vigilance led to the arrests.

A man who used stolen credit card details to live it up at a city centre hotel at the expense of a woman living in America was sentenced to 16 months in jail at Galway District Court yesterday.

The “sophisticated scam” was scuppered by gardai after a woman, living in Texas at the time, noticed the suspicious transactions and phoned the hotel to report the matter just as the defendant and his accomplices were having drinks at the bar.

Kingsley Kelechi Awulonu (23 ) with an address at 112 North Circular Road, Flat 4, Dublin 7, pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining services such as overnight accommodation for two rooms, telephone calls, Internet connection, and food and beverages with a total value of €152.72, using details of a credit card known to be false at Jurys Inn, Quay Street, on February 3, 2009.

He also pleaded guilty to possession of a Toshiba laptop used in the course of or in connection with an offence, and dishonestly operating the computer with the intention of making gain for himself and another.

According to Garda evidence when the defendant came to Galway he initally stayed in a hostel next to the bus station. He then booked rooms at Jurys Inn using credit card details belonging to Jaclyn Underwood.

On February 3, 2009, the defendant accompanied by two others, went up to the hotel’s reception desk to enquire about the booking which had not been on the system at first but then turned up showing that two rooms had been pre-paid.

The court heard that the owner of the card, Ms Underwood, noticed these transactions and phoned Jurys Inn just after the defendant and the two other accomplices had entered the bar and ordered alcohol worth €40 and charged it to the room. After they were arrested that same day gardai carried out a search of the rooms where they found two laptops which contained Ms Underwood’s details and “fraudulent documents”. When questioned the defendant admitted that the laptop was his.

Defence solicitor Brid Miller told the court that her defendant, a Nigerian national, is a trained architect who has been seeking asylum for the last two years. She acknowledged that this type of offence “strikes at the heart of financial security” but that Awuloni was at the lower end, that he held his hands up, and has no previous convicitions.

“This was a sophisticated scam which is ripping off people,” said Judge Aeneas McCarthy before convicting and sentencing the defendant to a total of 16 months in jail back dated to February 2, 2009. Leave to appeal was granted.

Co-defendant Crossley Williams (34 ) with no fixed abode, pleaded not guilty to similar offences and was remanded in custody to appear at Galway District Court again on April 20.

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