herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Travel conman sold €27k of bogus trips to friends 'to keep up cocaine lifestyle', court told

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Aaron Weinrib at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday
Aaron Weinrib at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday

A MAN who stole over €27,000 from friends and acquaintances by selling them bogus package holidays has been given more time to pay back his victims.

Aaron Weinrib (37), of Cambridge Villas, Rathmines, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eight sample charges of theft and fraud on dates between June 2010 and December 2010.

The court heard he had been selling three different holiday packages to New York, Las Vegas and Cape Town while claiming to be an agent for Top Flight.

His defence counsel said he used the money to keep up with "his cocaine lifestyle" having lost his job.

Yesterday, lawyers for Weinrib said that he had raised €9,900 so far and asked for more time to continue to put compensation together. Judge Mary Ellen Ring agreed to adjourn the matter until July 22, next.

Detective Garda Conor Bresnan told Michael Bowman BL, prosecuting, that gardai were contacted in November 2010 by two men who claimed that Weinrib had sold them package holidays.

One man had paid €3,200 for four nights for four people in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, while the other had paid €550 for a two-night stay in New York.

Both men received some documentation bearing the Top Flight logo from Weinrib but later discovered that there was no such holiday reserved for them.

Weinrib was taken in for questioning the following month and admitted that he took bank drafts from the men to cover the cost of the holidays.

He confirmed the holidays were never booked and said he had intended to refund them.

snowballed

"I did intend to run a promotion to honour them but it snowballed," Weinrib told gardai.

He admitted that he had never worked for Top Flight and that the documentation was a forgery.

During a subsequent search of Weinrib's apartment, gardai discovered a list of people and contact details and evidence on his computer of the documents that had been generated with the Top Flight logo.

Weinrib later admitted that other friends and acquaintances had also been sold bogus holidays.

In total, Weinrib sold these packages - which also included a package holiday worth €1,100 for the Mandela Rhodes Place hotel in Cape Town - to 20 people. He made €27,600 in the scam.

Lorcan Stains BL, defending, said Weinrib had started to "engage in cocaine taking and the cocaine lifestyle" and subsequently lost his job.

He was embarrassed by that fact and tried to "keep up with the lifestyle but didn't have the pay cheque to match it".

Counsel submitted that his client was "acting under a fantasy" that he would ultimately be able to refund everyone.

Judge Ring previously adjourned the case after acknowledging that Weinrib intends to use half of his current weekly wage of €400 to refund his victims.

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