Sligo man (22) admits selling his bank details
A young man from Grange, who admitted a charge under money laundering legislation, has had his case referred for a probation report so the court ‘finds out exactly what happened’, in court district of Sligo.
ean Lockhart (22) from Kilcat, Grange pleaded guilty to a charge that on various dates between February 16 and March 19 last year wired money knowing it was the proceeds of criminal conduct into a bank account in his name while being reckless as to whether the money was the proceeds of a criminal act.
His defense lawyer, Eddie Henry, said it was a very serious offense and added that young people had been tricked into giving out their bank details on their online accounts. “He is one of those unfortunate young people who saw a chance to make money and was effectively groomed by older people.” Sergeant Derek Butler told the court that a PUP beneficiary named James Ahern was referred to the Department of Social Care to consider his claims for payment.
It was established that he had a full-time job and never asked for the payment. The court heard that his PPS number had been accessed and compromised. The bank account was in the name of the defendant Sean Lockhart who admitted having sold his bank details to another individual for €250. He knew he was going to be used for criminal purposes.
As a result of the deception, €1,400 had been paid into his account and viewed by the person who purchased the details of that account. Mr Ahern was a completely innocent party, the court heard. When asked to whom he had sold his bank details, the defendant replied that it was to a Nigerian gentleman O whom he had met while taking a computer course at Athlone. Mr Henry said that Mr O, a 24-year-old man who befriended his client who was between 18 and 19 at the time and asked the defendant to let him use his account. The court heard that the defendant had an unused bank account that a bonus was paid into if you opened an account.
Mr. Ahern’s PPS number had been compromised and the fake account opened in his name and the money had been paid into the defendant’s account via a fake request in Mr. Ahern’s name. Sean Lockhart told the court he met Mr O in Athlone at parties and parties and they became friends. The latter sought to buy the defendant’s unused online bank account.
A year later, the defendant sold the account to Mr. O for €250 and “I thought that was the end of it”. The defendant was unaware of the compromise of Mr. Ahern’s PPS number and made a full statement to gardaí. He told the court that he called three different numbers to try to contact Mr O, but was unsuccessful. The defendant had closed his account from March 2021. The court heard that there had been a loss of €1,400 for the State because of the fraudulent payments. The accused said he would compensate the victim. The court heard he was an apprentice earning €330 a week and it would take him two months to pay the full compensation.
Mr Henry said this was a very serious offense and had very serious consequences under anti-money laundering legislation. Judge Sandra Murphy asked the defendant, “What did you think the account was used for”? The defendant said he didn’t know but thought it was a pyramid scheme. When the judge asked him if it had crossed his mind that his account was going to be used for criminal purposes, the defendant replied: “Deep down I thought it might be bad. I saw money at hand and I didn’t think at all”.
Judge Murphy said the case did not strike him as entirely innocent. “I know there is a trend at the minute but there is some criminal intent in what he was doing.”
Mr. Henry said the accused was candid with gardaí.
The judge pointed out that the defendant had contacted MO and offered his bank account online, so there was some element of criminality. Mr. Henry said the liability lay with the defendant. Judge Murphy adjourned the case to March 23 for a probation report.