We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo

Carer pleads guilty to stealing over €100,000 from elderly couple during Covid pandemic

Angela Manning, who had been the victim of online relationship fraud, pleaded guilty to stealing the money via ATM withdrawals.

A CARER WHO was a victim of online relationship fraud has pleaded guilty to stealing cash totalling €122,000 from an elderly couple during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Angela Manning (59) of Kingston Walk, Ballinteer, Dublin 22, pleaded guilty to seven sample charges of stealing money from an elderly couple via ATM withdrawals in Dublin between April 2019 and September 2021. She has no previous convictions.

Detective Garda Gavin Higgins told Aideen Collard, BL, prosecuting, that Laetitia Lynam and Enda O’Regan are a married couple, and Manning was initially hired as a carer via an agency but was later hired privately by the couple.

Higgins said O’Regan, who is in his 80s, resides in a nursing home and suffers from dementia. His wife, Lynam, self-isolated during the Covid 19 pandemic due to an underlying health condition.

Manning would call to her home daily and was given an ATM card and pin by Lynam so she could go food shopping.

The court heard that in September 2021, Lynam texted Manning asking for her ATM card back as she had tried to buy something online, but the payment would not go through.

The following day Manning came to Lynam’s home and said, “I want to tell you something, I have done something on you. You are going to be very angry with me, I have taken all your money.”

The court heard that Lynam initially laughed and thought it was a joke, but Manning said, “I have bled you dry; there is nothing left”.

Lynam asked, “Have you taken all my money?” to which Manning replied, “Yes, there is only €7 left”. Manning had withdrawn over €122k from the couple’s joint account.

Manning told Lynam that she had met a man on Facebook and was falling in love with him. This man said his name was “Sam”, and he was a soldier in the United States Army. Sam told Manning his daughter was dying, and he needed €10,000 to be released from the army.

Manning asked Lynam not to tell the gardaí as she needed time to tell her husband what she had done.

Lynam contacted the gardaí that afternoon, and an investigation began. Gardaí obtained CCTV footage of Manning withdrawing cash from an ATM.

During questioning, Manning told gardaí that she would withdraw cash and go to a shop on Talbot Street, where she would lodge cash using an ATM into an untraceable Bitcoin online wallet.

The court heard for a period of time that Manning stopped lodging money into the Bitcoin account after her brother found out and told her it was a “scam”.

While giving her account to gardaí, Manning said she had been contacted by other personas who said they were a General and Commandant in the US Army, as well as someone from the United Nations. She was also informed that Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was minding the money for her, all of which was completely untrue.

Higgins told the court that High Court proceedings had taken place in 2021, and the deeds of the Manning family home were now in the possession of Lynam and O’Regan.

Higgins agreed with Michael Bowman, SC, defending, that his client had fallen for a Facebook scam “hook, line and sinker”. He said she had accepted an unsolicited friend request on Facebook.

Bowman said that over the course of the scam, his client had received communications from a number of people pretending to be in the US Army. His client said they had put the “guilt trip on me”.

Counsel said his client had received an email from “Sam” stating that money had been held in trust for him and that once he had left the army, that money would be released. He said that Manning was of the belief that the money she had transferred was a loan and would be paid back to her.

He said his client believed that the money was being sent via an An Post parcel, but it had been stopped by customs in Ireland, and an additional payment was needed to have this parcel released.

Bowman told the court that Manning had also used money which her husband received when he retired and that he has to come out of retirement and go back to work.

Counsel handed documents to the court in the form of a handwritten letter from the accused and two medical reports. One of the reports outlined that Manning was an easy target for manipulation.

He asked the court to take into account that the prospect of his client ever coming before the court in the future is near zero.

He said it is an “extraordinary set of circumstances and that his client had compromised the security of the injured parties and had also done the exact same thing to her husband and family.”

Ms Justice Pauline Codd adjourned this case for finalisation until 27 July.