A car has been returned to a Mullingar company after it was fraudulently “bought” on behalf of a Cork woman.
The woman, who paid the “confidence fraudster” for the car is now at the loss of €17,500.
In a hearing which lasted several hours, Sgt Patrick Hannan told a sitting of Mullingar District Court that on September 5, 2008, a man who cannot be named because of jury cases pending against him, entered Grange Motors, Mullingar and arranged to buy a car for Ms Jacqueline Dunne, Doneraile, Mallow in Cork.
He agreed to pay for the car by electronic funds transfer and arrived the following day to collect it. Ms Dunne had traded in her 04 car to the man, who was once in the car sales business with his reputable brother and who trades on his brother’s good name. She also handed over €6,500. Grange Motors registered the car in the name of Ms Dunne and charged €22,600 for it and contacted Gardaí at the end of October that year when they received no payment.
The sergeant said that Ms Dunne and her father, who bought the car on her behalf, had been duped by the man whom he described as a “confidence fraudster” or agent, a man who “moves addresses”.
Ms Dunne and her 79-year-old father Con, who had been in the car sale s business for 25 years, had bought a car from the man in the past with no trouble and had recommended him to family who had also bought through him.
Both gave evidence of how they had bought the car. Mr Dunne, who lives in Rathangan said he had known the man and his reputable brother and had no idea that the middle man had a reputation for being a fraud and gave evidence of all his dealings with him.
Ms Dunne said that a green document she had received from Grange Motors was a receipt which proved her ownership. When she taxed the car and received the VRT documentation, she understood the car was hers, she said.
However Eddie Claffey, formerly of Grange Motors, said the car still belonged to Grange Motors because they had not been paid for it.
A clause on the green receipt stated that the company retained ownership of a vehicle until full payment was received.
He said that he had known the fraudster’s brother well and had done business with him in a very professional way and he hoped that the company would make “hundreds of sales” through this new agent.
They waited six weeks before contacting Gardaí or Ms Dunne because they had been trying to contact the middle man and weren’t aware that the money had not been paid until the end of September.
The judge said he believed the evidence of Ms Dunne but felt it “extraordinary” that her father did not go to the middle man’s brother’s garage to buy the car, but instead went through the middle man and bought in Mullingar.
Saying that he was “not satisfied that Con Dunne is being as truthful as he could be in respect of his dealings,” he restored the ownership of the vehicle to Grange Motors.