A married couple who are former solicitors created 60 false identities, donned disguises and paid homeless people for their PPS numbers in order to defraud banks and credit unions of several hundred thousand euro, Cork Circuit Criminal has heard.
Keith Flynn (46) and Lyndsey Clarke (37), of Blarney Street in Cork city, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, arising out of an 18-month Garda probe. Detective Garda Alan McCarthy told the court that the pair created 80 fake accounts using 60 false identities in order to defraud Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank, and a number of credit unions by obtaining personal bank loans dishonestly. He said the criminal activity began in January 2017.
The couple, who got to know each other when Clarke went to work for Flynn at his legal practice eight years ago, took out a number of loans in financial institutions using fake identities. The banks and credit unions are at a loss of €394,804 following the criminal activity. Prosecuting Barrister Siobhan Lankford, SC, said the pair were in effect running an “identity factory”.
Det Garda McCarthy said the couple applied for loans using fake driving licences obtained online, fake bank statements and fake payslips. They even paid members of the homeless community for their PPS numbers in order to use them in their criminal activity.
In September 2017, the Financial Crime Unit in Bank of Ireland became suspicious of activities in six accounts and contacted gardaí. An investigation was subsequently launched and in July of 2018 a search was carried out at an apartment the pair lived in at Sunday’s Well in Cork.
Gardaí recovered laptops, wigs used for disguises when they went to banks and ATMs, and a locked safe. More than €92,000 was recovered from the safe, which was opened after Clarke and Flynn voluntarily handed over a key. Gardaí found 21 fake Irish driving licences, 19 fake bank cards and 16 credit union books in different names in the safe.
Det Garda McCarthy said the duo had opened 19 fake accounts with Bank of Ireland in Cork and Dublin, 19 fake credit union accounts,19 fake accounts with AIB and three fake accounts with Ulster Bank. Loans were approved with all these institutions. They also had fake accounts with An Post, Permanent TSB and KBC but no loans were approved on those accounts.
They made admissions of guilt in garda interviews in August of 2018. They said they were motivated purely by financial gain.
Det Garda McCarthy said Flynn had two children from a previous marriage which had broken down in addition to his young child with Flynn. He opened his first law practice in 2006 in Cork before opening a second in Dublin in 2012. He said Clarke was the mother of two children, one from a previous relationship and her three-month-old child with Flynn.
Alice Fawsitt, SC, representing Clarke, said her client and Flynn had voluntarily handed over the keys for the safe. She stressed whilst they had robbed from banks they saved the State an enormous amount of money by entering a guilty plea and avoiding a trial.
She told Judge Sean O’Donnabhain that her client had a history of depression. Seamus Roche, SC, representing Flynn, said his client had lost his family and business and had gone bankrupt.
Flynn was remanded in custody until Friday for sentencing whilst Ms Flynn was given bail until then to make arrangements for her children.