A criminal gang member has been jailed today for laundering over €750,000 of organised crime money using 27 bank accounts and five fake companies.
Calin Scintei, 28, who is originally from Romania but has an address at Jameson Orchard, Malahide, used fake Irish and UK driving licences and fake Romanian identity cards to set up bank accounts around the country.
He also tried to apply for a PPS number using a fake identity at an Intreo centre in Kildare.
The organised crime gang laundered €1.5m from various criminal scams, such as the Tesco fraud and ATM thefts that Scintei took part in.
One victim of the money laundering crime was a woman who, while on maternity leave, had nearly €10,000 stolen from her after she was sent a fake text from Revenue saying she was entitled to a refund.
Detective Garda Stephen Kelly from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation told the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Scintei and another man also used a loophole to scam Tesco out of large sums of money.
They used fake gift cards to buy expensive items in the bigger Tesco stores, including whiskey, champagne, a laptop and a vacuum cleaner. The loophole in the Tesco gift cards has since been rectified.
In relation to the ATM scam, Scintei and another man used a method to prise cash out of the dispenser by hand. This caused €18,000 worth of damage to ATMs in the Leinster area and they managed to steal a total of €7,690.
Scintei was identified as a result of his car registration. One of his accomplices has already been dealt with by the courts, and the other has left the country.
Scintei has 12 previous convictions, including convictions for theft and fraud offences. He claimed he was pressured into carrying out offences for a Romanian organised crime gang and described himself to gardaí as a "budgie down the mine".
His defence counsel said he moved to Ireland from Romania about eight years ago and has been working ever since in low-paid food delivery jobs. His mother followed him over shortly afterwards and now works as a hospital staff nurse. He also has a partner here.
Senior Counsel Dean Kelly said Scintei started hanging around with some of his fellow countrymen, built up a gambling debt and needed a way to pay it off.
Scintei, he said, was a "cog in an enormous, lucrative wheel" who received very small amounts of money in return for his actions, the court heard.
"This is an overall criminal enterprise with sinister individuals who deploy underlings for the purpose of extra insulation," Mr Kelly said.
Judge Martin Nolan said he accepted Scintei was paid a "modest reward" for his role and was "not a master criminal".
"But he was certainly a busy criminal," the judge said "with "intelligence", "charm" and "guile" and had used all of those talents to advance his criminal behaviour.
He jailed Cailin Scintei for four-and-a-half years.
Afterwards Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation said: "This is a good example of the strategy GNECB adopts to tackle these criminal organisations who are involved in all types of cyber enabled frauds and we work very closely with our partners in the financial institutions."