A CONVICTED fraudster who played a key role in Careysfort Assets Estates Limited of alleged mortgage scammer Catriona Carey has washed his hands of her.
Confronted by the Sunday World at his home in south-east Ireland this week after serious allegations of financial misconduct against Carey and the company, the 55-year-old con man told us: “It’s nothing to do with me.”
When our reporter tried to show the fraudster’s records proving he took on a key role in the company in December 2019, the scammer said, “I haven’t been involved since last December 31.”
The Sunday World is not legally allowed to identify the convicted scammer at this stage as he is currently in court for tricking people into handing over large sums of money for services relating to bogus mortgage applications .
These charges are believed to be unrelated to the man’s role in Carey’s business.
He also faces a separate charge relating to the sale of a BMW jeep which was subject to a lease and remained the property of BMW Ireland.
The con man first came to the attention of the Sunday World in January 2020 when he was found guilty of defrauding a family of thousands of euros and a boat – after promising he could help recover a house after it has been repossessed.
Later, when the cops searched his home, they found a gun he didn’t have a license for, and he was convicted of that offense as well.
The con man was given a suspended sentence for the offenses after the court heard testimony that he suffered from a “huge drinking problem”.
What was not revealed during the sentencing hearing was the fact that the scammer had been involved in the Irish arm of Catriona Carey’s Careysfort Asset Estates.
The company finds itself at the center of a storm of allegations of fraud and financial mismanagement this weekend, as well as an escalating Garda investigation.
RTE Investigates has revealed that more than €200,000 deposited by desperate homeowners into a business account controlled by Catriona Carey was allegedly spent on personal items and services.
Ms Carey, an accountant by training, is a former Irish hockey player and the sister of former Kilkenny hurling legend DJ Carey.
Around 15 people have complained about Ms Carey to Gardaí after she handed over large sums of money to her company after she said she would buy their debt from lenders at a cheaper rate and thus sell their house back to them with much lower mortgage repayments.
All that was required was an initial lump sum of 10-30% of the new loan amount.
Some have handed over tens of thousands of euros and their debt is still in the hands of the original lenders and has not been redeemed by Careysfort Asset Estates.
Over a two-year period, approximately €400,000 from Careysfort Asset Estates clients were paid into the company’s account and last month it was down to €488.10, with nothing to refund to those who made deposits to Catriona Carey’s business.
The biggest expense using funds from the company’s account was on July 21, 2020, when the money was used to purchase a BMW at a cost of €55,226.
Money from the account was used to fund a lavish lifestyle, including ski trips to Switzerland, a trip to Florida, and multiple expenses at high-end boutiques and outlets.
RTE obtained two years of bank statements from Careysfort Asset Estates Limited, of which Catriona Carey is the sole director and owner.
Documents obtained separately by the Sunday World revealed that the convicted fraudster, whom we approached this week, held a separate role within the company.
The financial statements show how customer deposits were used to fund everything from purchases at Lidl to trips to Switzerland.
In a 12 month period, over €380,000 was deposited into the account, the vast majority being deposits made by clients to Careysfort Asset Estates Limited. And over €200,000 has been spent on what appear to be personal use items and services.
RTÉ Investigates has shed light on the fate of 18 people who paid nearly €500,000, with some paying €60,000 each.
According to the signed agreements, these deposits were refundable. But once they got paid, Catriona Carey chained people up to two years with broken promises.
She told her clients that she was dealing with their lenders to buy their mortgages, but that was not the case.
When people realized they had been defrauded, they asked Catriona Carey to get their bail back, but they didn’t get it.
Details obtained by RTE revealed how after one of Carey’s alleged victims, Sharon O’Riordan, posted €5,000 as bail in November 2019.
A month later, bank statements show that the Careysfort Asset Estates account was used to book a hotel at a Swiss ski resort for six nights. The cost per night was €1,176 and came to a total of €7,058.
Days later, alleged victims Miriam Tormey and Phil Conway made two wire transfers of €10,000 to the company’s account with Miriam, whose name was not on the mortgage, having to borrow the money from the credit union .
Two weeks after Miriam and Phil paid their deposit, the trip to the ski resort in Switzerland began and the Careysfort Asset Estates account was used to fund expenses throughout the six-day trip for shops, restaurants and the like items, for an amount of €6,976. The total expense was €14,000 excluding flights.
The day after the trip ended, another €10,863 was spent. It was €8,000 at a Michael Lyng car dealership based in Kilkenny, €2,080 at Welch Sports, which specializes in the sale of hockey equipment, and €783 at EZ Living Furniture in Kilkenny.
A few weeks later, the account was used again to pay for another trip abroad, this time to Florida for seven days.
The account shows related fees of more than €22,000, including nearly €1,000 in a single transaction at Armani Exchange.
Responding to a detailed list of questions from RTE Investigates, Ms Carey said she could not speak to any customers due to “strict confidentiality clauses”.
She also said her company has funds to “cover all customer deposits”, but added: “We are not advised to refund customers at this stage.”