By Sonya McLean
An expectant mother who allowed her bank account to be used in a banking scam has been given a two-year suspended sentence.
Jennifer Ithere (24) was approached in her college by another person and told that they would provide her with supplies for her course if she gave them her bank details.
She told gardaí that the person also told her they would release “private photographs” of her if she didn’t agree to the proposal.
Garda Derek Brereton told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that €8,500 were taken from a Bank of Ireland’s customer’s account after the person became the victim of a fraud. It involved the account holder being sent a text message claiming to be from the bank and directing them to click on a particular link. The person is then asked to provide their bank details.
Gda Brereton said the funds were then transferred into Ithere’s account. He said she was identified easily and came voluntarily to the garda station to help with their investigation. She admitted that she had allowed her account to be used.
Bank of Ireland were able to freeze Ithere’s account before all but €42 of the transferred funds were withdrawn. The account holder was fully reimbursed by the bank.
Ithere of Haydens Park Dale, Lucan, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to money laundering on October 29, 2019. She has no previous convictions.
Gda Brereton agreed that Ithere allowed her account to be used as “a mule account” after she claimed she was given these two options.
He accepted that she has not come to garda attention since.
Ithere is due to have her first child in August. References handed in on her behalf described her as honest and trustworthy.
Judge Melanie Greally said the cash was fraudulently obtained and transferred to Ithere’s account with “her full knowledge and agreement” after she was put under some degree of pressure “regarding the disclosure of certain private photographs of her”.
She said this type of offence has become a problem for financial institutions and noted that educational institutions appear to be targeted where students are put under pressure to get involved.
Judge Greally said “general deterrence” is important in such cases but she said she was satisfied that in this particular incidence “that general deterrence can be achieved by the imposition of a suspended sentence”.
She suspended a two-year sentence on strict conditions after noting that Ithere is a young woman who has engaged in full time education since leaving school and acknowledging that she is expecting her first child.