A fraudster who took part in a €1.5 million money laundering operation for an organised crime gang has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Calin Scintei described himself to gardaí as a “budgie down the mine” who was pressured into carrying out offences for a Romanian organised crime gang, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.
These included a Tesco gift card scam, in which he helped to defraud the retailer of €12,400 and an ATM scam in which he caused €18,000 worth of criminal damage to AIB ATMs and stole over €7,600 in cash.
He also took part in a €1.5 million money laundering operation in which he set up 27 bank accounts using false documents and registered five fake companies. These accounts were responsible for laundering about €780,000, Aideen Collard BL, prosecuting, told the court.
Victim on maternity leave
The court heard the gang was laundering money from various criminal scams, such as the Tesco fraud and ATM thefts that Scintei took part in.
One victim of the money laundering crime was a woman who, while on maternity leave, had nearly €10,000 stolen from her after she was sent a fake text from Revenue saying she was entitled to a refund, the court heard.
Scintei (28) with an address at Jameson Orchard, Malahide, pleaded guilty to 25 charges, including participating in organised crime, fraud offences, criminal damage, theft and possessing the proceeds of crime on dates between August 2018 and January 2020.
He has 12 previous convictions, including for theft and fraud offences.
Sentencing him today, Judge Martin Nolan said he accepted Scintei was paid a “modest reward” for his role and was “not a master criminal”.
“But he was certainly a busy criminal,” the judge said.
He noted Scintei had “intelligence”, “charm” and “guile”. “He used all of those talents to advance his criminal behaviour,” Judge Nolan said.
He handed down a four-and-a-half year sentence, noting that but for mitigating factors, he would have considered a headline sentence of eight to nine years, given the nature of the crimes involved.
Dean Kelly SC, defending, said his client moved to Ireland from Romania about eight years ago and has been working ever since in low-paid food delivery jobs. His mother followed him over shortly afterwards and now works as a hospital staff nurse. Scintei also has a partner here.
Mr Kelly said Scintei started hanging around with some of his fellow country men, built up a gambling debt and needed a way to pay it off.
Scintei was a “cog in an enormous, lucrative wheel” who received very small amounts of money in return for his actions, the court heard.
“This is an overall criminal enterprise with sinister individuals who deploy underlings for the purpose of extra insulation,” Mr Kelly said.