Man convicted of role in Dublin rental scam
A man who was part of a scam that defrauded six potential tenants out of nearly € 11,000 by securing deposits for an apartment he was not allowed to rent will be sentenced later.
It was admitted that Robert Long (32) was not the main instigator of the project and that he did not benefit financially. He acted as the current tenant of the Dublin apartment, while the man who acted as landlord and took the deposits, has yet to be identified by gardaí.
Long, who lived for a time in America, with an address in Clonca Culdaff, Carndonagh, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to six counts of theft and two counts of Deception at Longboat Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin on dates between July 29 and August 1, 2017. The deception charges represent a sample of a total of six such offenses.
He has no previous convictions and had € 10,700 in court to fully compensate the victims.
Judge Melanie Greally has placed Long in pre-trial detention and adjourned the sentence until October 29. She ordered a report from the probation service by that date and requested that Long be assessed for his suitability for community service.
Garda Derek Brereton told Gráinne O’Neill BL in the lawsuit that the owner of the property had rented it through Airbnb when she learned that a number of people were showing up at the apartment thinking they had mistakenly praised it.
Those concerned had responded to an ad on Daft.ie and met a man known as Jack Lyndsey at the apartment. Gardaí is convinced that this was not the man’s real name. They each paid different amounts of cash for a deposit, signed contracts or leases, and received keys.
They realized that they had been scammed when they arrived at the apartment to move in and discovered that another person was living there.
Gda Brereton said Long’s role is to act as a resident tenant of the property and potential tenants have been told he needs to move out.
Gardaí secured the CCTV footage of the building using the timeline given by the victims and noticed Long arriving in a taxi. Contact was made with the taxi driver who said he picked up the man from a local Tesco.
Gardaí then obtained pictures of this Tesco and noticed that the suspect was buying items there. They then obtained a copy of a purchase receipt from the store, which led them to the customer’s bank details from which they obtained an address for Long.
Long was questioned, but initially made no confession. After obtaining legal advice, he then told Gardaí that he had limited knowledge of the scam.
He said he had been depressed and lonely and was abusing both alcohol and drugs. He described it as “a huge mistake” to get involved and said he didn’t take any money. He declined to give Gardaí details on the man falsely known as Jack Lyndsey because he said the man had an extremely violent history and was concerned for his own safety.
Gda Brereton agreed with defendant David Staunton BL that his client fully cooperated with Garda’s investigation after receiving advice and that Gardaí was satisfied that he had not benefited financially from the program.
He accepted that Long befriended this other person who later used him.
Mr Staunton said his client had € 10,700 in court to fully compensate the six families or couples affected by the crime.
“It was a dirty business taking advantage of people who had difficulty finding accommodation in Dublin. It has benefited the vulnerable, ”Staunton said.
He accepted that his client “was a cog, but not the main cog” and was ready to participate.
“He might not have the full picture himself, but he knew something was wrong,” Mr Staunton told Judge Greally.
He said his client spent time as a child in the United States before returning to his father’s house in Donegal.
He said he lived in basic accommodation but wanted to move there to distance himself from his negative peers. Long was undergoing treatment for depression before getting involved in the case, the lawyer told the court.