Money mule avoids jail term

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By Brion Hoban

A man who acted as a money mule as part of a fraud in which €23,000 was laundered through his account has received a fully suspended sentence.

Aaron McGuirk (23) provided his bank details to those operating an email fraud for €1,000 as he was “embarrassed” he could not afford to do things with his girlfriend and friends.

McGurik of De Selby Lane, Blessington Road, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the proceeds of criminal conduct within the State on October 10, 2018. He has no previous convictions.

Detective Garda David Jennings told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that in October 2018, the accounts’ manager of a Romanian company, which was the central office for a number of tourism businesses in different countries, received an email purporting to be from a colleague in Thailand.

Det Gda Jennings said the email stated that there would be a change of bank details for the business in Thailand with immediate effect. The email account had in fact been hacked and was providing false details.

The detective said that on October 10, 2018, a payment was made to the business in Thailand and €23,747 was transferred using the new bank details. The company never received the money, which instead went into the bank account of the accused man.

Some €13,000 of the money was withdrawn from the account over the next two days, while €10,000 was transferred into another account. None of the money has ever been recovered.

In interview with gardaí following his arrest, McGuirk said he was in need of money and took an opportunity he should not have. He said the total gain for himself was €1,000.

McGuirk said he had withdrawn some of the money himself from various places. He said he wanted to apologise to whoever he impacted with his actions.

Det Gda Jennings agreed with John Griffin BL, defending, that there was no suggestion his client was directly involved with the fraud and only acted as a “mule”. He agreed there was “little to no money” in McGuirk’s account at the time of the offence.

Mr Griffin said his client became involved in the offending as he did not have enough money and he felt “embarrassed” he could not do things with his girlfriend and friends.

Counsel said his client currently works for a company which installs medical equipment in hospitals and homes. He said his client is also involved with a charity which provides food and tents to homeless people.

Mr Griffin said his client had €2,000 with him present in court.

Judge Melanie Greally said there is a “proliferation of young men in particular” coming before the court for this offence.

Judge Greally said the court must ask itself whether a non-custodial sentence meets the principle of general deterrence. She said there was an abundance of mitigation in this case and the accused has the ability to make a positive impact in the community.

She sentenced McGuirk to two-and-a-half years imprisonment, but suspended the entirety of the sentence on strict conditions.

Judge Greally also ordered that the €2,000 be handed over to the Peter McVerry Trust.

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