herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Victim is sold tin of peas for €200 in iPhone deal scam

A FRAUDSTER conned a bargain hunter into buying a tin of peas for €200 when he claimed it was an iPhone in a bogus roadside deal, a court heard.

Joseph McDonagh (21) offered a real phone for sale, but made the switch after the victim rushed off to get the cash from an ATM.

The man, a newspaper seller, accepted the package and only discovered it contained a tin of processed peas instead of an iPhone after McDonagh had driven off with his money.

A judge described the scam as a "Jack and the beanstalk" incident when trickster McDonagh admitted a charge of deception at Blanchardstown District Court.

The court heard McDonagh had mental health problems following a childhood injury, but Judge Anthony Halpin said the crime had been a "very cunning plan" that had taken "some intelligence".

McDonagh, of Kishogue Park, Lucan, pleaded guilty to dishonestly inducing the victim to hand over €200 in exchange for a tin of peas at Cloverhill Road, Clondalkin, on August 3 last year.

Sgt Maria Callaghan told the court the victim had been selling newspapers at a busy junction when two men pulled up in a van and offered him an iPhone for sale.

Victim

McDonagh requested €200 for the phone and the victim viewed it and its accessories. He went to an ATM, where he took the money out and returned.

"He handed the money over to Mr McDonagh and he was handed a package, but it contained a tin of peas instead of the iPhone he was expecting," Sgt Callaghan said.

"It was Jack and the beanstalk," said Judge Halpin.

A complaint was made to the gardai and the accused made admissions when he was arrested and charged.

McDonagh had been the victim of a serious assault as a juvenile and this had left him with mental health problems, his solicitor Matthew Kenny said. Because of this he was struggling to find employment.

The defendant is married and on social welfare.

Judge Halpin said he was taking account of the fact that the actual cost of an iPhone was around €500 and the victim "had the intention of getting a bargain here".

The judge adjourned the case for three months and said he would apply the Probation Act, leaving the defendant without a conviction, if he made a €100 donation to charity.

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