herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Builder hit by slump turned to crime gang

JAIL: Credit card fraud spotted

A CONSTRUCTION worker who fell on hard times when his business collapsed in the recession got caught up in organised crime for more than two years, a court heard.

Andrei Nechifor (29), now working as a pizza delivery man, was jailed for two months when he was caught by gardai with a forged credit card.

Sentencing him, Judge Ann Watkin said there was nobody in the country who had not suffered in the recession and that this was no excuse for getting involved in organised crime.

Dublin District Court heard Nechifor was not a main player in the operation.

The accused, of Villa Park Road, Cabra, pleaded guilty to possession of a false instrument at Dundalk Garda Station on September 9 last year.

The charge, related to an MBNA credit card, is under Section 29 of the Theft and Fraud Offences Act.

Detective Garda Paul McHugh told the court the card was originally legitimate but had been altered. It had been one of the accused's own credit cards that had been "compromised" and intended for fraudulent use.

However, it had not been used before the gardai intercepted it and no third party was at a financial loss.



LANGUAGE

The court heard the accused had 10 previous convictions, but only one was for a similar charge in 2007, for which he was fined, and the rest were for minor motoring offences.

Nechifor had been in Ireland for 11 years, had worked by himself for most of that time, had paid tax and was never on social welfare.

He was from a well-educated background in Romania and while he became involved in crime, he was not "one of the main players". He was an "intelligent man" who had been "used for his language skills".

Judge Watkin said although nobody had been defrauded with the card, it had been altered for this purpose and it was "just luck" that it had been found before it was used.

"It is a serious offence involving organised crime -- he was not a top player but he was clearly involved for some time," Judge Watkin said.

"The fact that this is some kind of conspiratorial-type crime is of concern. It's not simply that he got this credit card. He was given a break on the first occasion and he didn't learn from it."

The garda said it would be very difficult to have used the card in Ireland and it would have been easier to use in another country.

aphelan@herald.ie

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