Two Romanian men who worked for an international gang which operated five cells in Ireland, have been jailed for their roles in a highly organised crime network which stole up to €24 million from victims throughout Europe.
Gheorghe Gherge (35) of Dargle Road, Drumcondra, Dublin was jailed for 3 and a half years, while Daniel Semen (32) was imprisoned for two years and eight months.
Both Romanian men were part of an intricate scheme which saw websites of genuine Irish companies being cloned in order to defraud customers both in Ireland and abroad.
The cloned sites managed to take payments from customers but the goods – including large purchases like tractors – were never delivered. The gang advertised the sale of caravans, tractors, farm machinery, vintage cars and designer watches in order to scam people of millions on websites across Europe
The Irish Times reports that:
“in one case, the victim of a fraud had his personal details used by the fraudsters, supported by false documents created in his name, to open bank accounts. These were then used to launder the money stolen from other victims.”
Following a major investigation by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, working as Operation Omena, all of the gang’s five Irish cells have been closed down and 10 men jailed.
The Gardai say that about €7 million of the stolen money was laundered through Irish banks.
Gheorghe Gherge, a father of one and university dropout, used false identification documents to open up 17 different accounts – using at least 8 different aliases claiming to be from Italy, France and other countries.
On Monday, Judge Dara Hayes Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jailed him for three and a half years for two counts of using false instruments and two counts of money laundering, between June 2016 and April 2019. The judge said he played a senior role in the criminal gang, and that his crimes were “committed in the context of serious criminality”.
The gang, which Gardai said used meticulous planning and was populated by many university-educated members, operated successfully by opening a huge number of bank accounts through which they laundered the money they had stolen.
The gang even flew Romanians into Ireland for the purpose of opening bank accounts, and those who decided to stay in this country were eligible to get a cut of the stolen money.