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Saturday 21 September 2019

Ticket scammer who posed as GAA official cheats fan out of €420

Two of the face-value tickets were ‘offered’ for Cusack Stand
Two of the face-value tickets were ‘offered’ for Cusack Stand

A Kildare mother has lost €420 after falling victim to an elaborate scam to sell her All-Ireland final tickets.

A notorious serial conman is believed to have gone to great lengths to gain the trust of the GAA fan.

Speaking on RTE's Liveline radio show, Siobhan, which is not her real name, said the man had initially offered her two Cusack Stand tickets at face value for Sunday's Dublin v Kerry showdown.

"After we exchanged phone numbers he explained he would only give them to someone who he trusted and would not sell them on for a profit.

"He claimed he was a solicitor, but got a job working in the GAA and had spare tickets for the final.

"He wanted to ensure that his tickets didn't fall into the hands of touts, and would only sell to genuine fans."

Asked why she wanted the tickets by the scammer, Siobhan said that it would mean the world to her 14-year-old daughter, whose father had been an avid Dubs fan before he died.

They spoke on the phone for more than an hour and even agreed to exchange social media accounts as an extra precaution.

The following morning the two arranged to meet at Croke Park to make the transaction.

The conman said that three more tickets had come into his possession and asked if she knew of any "genuine fans" who were interested in one premium and two Hill seats.

Speaking to the Herald, Siobhan said she immediately contacted her friends who were "over the moon" at the offer and accepted right away.

"It came to a total of €420 for the five tickets at face value," she said.

"I told the man that my daughter was so excited about the tickets and that she couldn't thank him enough.

"He even said he had an extra surprise for her and sent her a video from outside the Cusack Stand showing where she would be seated on Sunday. I had no reason whatsoever to doubt his authenticity."

On arrival at Dublin, Siobhan, who was minding her neighbour's three children at the time, met outside a pub near Croke Park at 1pm.

"He was very well-dressed and even promised the kids that they could have a tour of the stadium afterwards," she said.

"He explained that he shouldn't really be selling the tickets and his job in the GAA would be at risk if anyone found out.

"We then walked to the GAA ticket office on Dorset Street and asked if we could sit in the outdoor seating area of a cafe a few doors down while he got them."

Siobhan then made the critical error of handing him the €420 in cash before turning her back to check on the children.

"That was the last I saw of him. After about 25 minutes of waiting, I knew something wasn't right and I started to get very concerned," she said.

"I then tried to ring his phone, but it was turned off. I also noticed that he deleted his Instagram account.

"I could not believe that I had fallen victim to this scam because I'm usually so careful about these sorts of things.

"I contacted the gardai and they were well aware of who this man was and assured me that they would investigate it.

"I'm just broken up by this, not for me, but for my daughter.

"I still haven't the heart to break the bad news to her yet. She's going to be absolutely devastated."

Asked if she had a message for anyone interested in buying tickets for the All-Ireland final online, Siobhan said: "These people go to great lengths to scam you and gain your trust, so you can't be careful enough.

"I just hope my story will save others from falling victim to this scumbag and others like him."

Meanwhile, the GAA has warned against a scam involving the All-Ireland football final.

Emails are being circulated purporting to offer corporate facilities for Sunday's Dublin-Kerry football clash.

Using a company address in London, the well-designed order form invites interested parties to purchase 18 tickets at a cost of €2,500. It claims that first-class facilities will be enjoyed in a corporate box.

The email has been sent to various GAA clubs and other units and it's also understood that some companies in the competing counties have been contacted.

"It's a scam from start to finish," said Alan Milton, the GAA's director of communications.

"Croke Park does not use any third-party providers for hospitality offerings and, anyway, all the suites are in long-term contracts."

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