A Romanian national begging on the street targeted two elderly people, told them made-up sob stories for years and gradually got them to hand over their entire life savings scamming a grand total of €330,000.
A 69-year-old West Cork man was ripped off to the tune of a total of €207,000 – his entire life savings. A 74-year-old woman had €123,000 stolen from her. Not only did she hand over everything she had, she even borrowed €15,000 to pay him more, and she is still paying back that loan.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin jailed Bradut Iosca of Relic Road, Kilbeggan, Westmeath, for six years at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. He said the accused man bled his victims dry and there was no sign or remorse.
“This was a merciless exploitation of two innocents,” the judge said.
Sergeant Ailish Murphy went through the various stories told by the defendant in the course of the investigation and established that none of them was true.
· He claimed his mother died in Serbia and that he and his family needed funds to travel to the funeral. His mother was alive and well and living in Ireland.
· He said he was dying of cancer and needed life-saving treatment only available to him in France. In fact, he has never had cancer.
· One victim was told that he was trying to sell a house in Serbia to repay what he had borrowed from the victim but first he needed €108,000 to pay off what was left on the mortgage before he could sell it. He handed over a letter from a Serbian solicitor confirming this. Gardaí contacted the solicitor who said he had never confirmed any such thing and that the document purportedly from his office was a forgery.
· He gave the injured parties false names and claimed he later wanted them to know his real name. Gardaí said the only reason he did this was to get cheques in large sums to be lodged in his bank account.
· He claimed he needed money for a citizenship application. He never made such an application.
· The victims were told he had fallen behind in his rent and his landlord was threatening eviction. In fact, he never missed his rent and was at no time threatened with eviction.
· He said he had run out of money to fend for his family. However, between rent allowance, disability allowance, children’s allowance and other payments the social welfare for himself and his family amounted to €650 every week during this period. He also had a medical card.
· He told the victims he was Serbian. He is Romanian.
It later turned out that the true story told by the 39-year-old – to the gardaí but never to the two victims – was that every time he got money from his victims he squandered it on online gambling as soon as he got it.
Tom Creed defence senior counsel said the defendant never got aggressive with the victims but was persistent and they were very charitable towards him. The West Cork man once had dinner with the defendant’s family around Christmastime.
Sgt. Ailish Murphy said, “Throughout this investigation he showed no remorse for his action or for the financial difficulties the injured parties now find themselves in.
“During interview he concocted a story he was in a gay relationship with one of the victims and that they were going to run away to Serbia together which was unwarranted and unfounded.
“He targeted both victims while begging on the street. He perfected his craft over a number of years, preying on the compassion, good nature and vulnerability of the victims and was unsympathetic to their grief.”
Sgt. Murphy outlined details of the extensive investigation carried out into the way in which the defendant told both victims stories of his dire need for money which he promised to repay but never did, apart from some small amount at the beginning to build up trust.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said, “Two people set out to help the accused and through various schemes and deviousness he bled them dry. He said he had a gambling addiction – we would all have a gambling addiction if we could pay for it in this manner.
“The victims are humiliated, degraded and impoverished and nothing can be done about this because there is not a penny piece left after an elaborate deceit built on one sob story after another. There was a web of deceit on a continuous basis.”
Concluding, the judge said Bradut Iosca had caused carnage in the lives of the victims and that reading their victim impact statements, which were not read publically, “would literally break your heart.”