By Elizabeth Hearst for AMLi
One of Europe’s oldest known money launderers has pleaded guilty for his part in a €120,000 invoice redirect scam, but says he “does not want to go to jail”.
James O’Rourke (76) pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering, after allowing his bank accounts to be used in an invoice redirect scam, in Ireland.
Mr O’Rourke has no previous convictions, and signed guilty pleas at the Cork Circuit Criminal Court relating to three transactions amounting to €121,000 in his Bank of Ireland and AIB accounts.
The court was told Mr O’Rourke was lured into a Facebook friendship, and was promised €6000 from a €2000 investment to feed homeless people in Nigeria, and did so to supplement his “meagre pension”, according to the Irish Independent.
It’s believed a sum of €52,000 was sent from Sweden in April 2020, with a further two sums of €29,000 and €40,000 sent from France.
The funds have since been linked to companies involved in an “invoice redirect scam”, with the money sent from Sweden originating from a Lithuanian bank account.
Defence barrister Brian Leahy said Mr O’Rourke would “not be hugely savvy with the internet”, adding that “he was sucked into a Facebook friendship and believed there was easy money to be made”.
Speaking to the Sunday World, Mr O’Rourke said it was “definitely a scam”, adding that “but I’m here… and the people who scammed me aren’t”.
He stressed that he “didn’t do anything with a criminal purpose in mind”.
Mr O’Rourke admitted he was worried about a potential time behind bars, and said, “of course I’m worried because I’m 76 years old. I don’t want to be going to jail now”.
He added that he had “never been in trouble”, and had never used the internet before he became unwell three years ago.
It’s believed Mr O’Rourke withdrew €1570 from the funds, and admitted that he looked “so naive”.
Irish police have issued a number of warnings to the public about acting as ‘money mules’ for invoice redirect scammers.
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