Thursday was another bad day for the accountant, cheater and former hockey international Catriona Carey.
Since February, when RTÉ Investigates revealed how she and her company cheated people struggling to pay their mortgages, Carey has appeared regularly in the news.
In early March, gardaí raided her home and confiscated documents and digital devices. Weeks later, they seized her BMW 55,000 euros.
One of her investment properties was repossessed by the banks and sold, and in May she received a suspended prison sentence for driving without insurance.
On Thursday, the central bank issued a warning advising people not to trade with her company.
Careysfort Asset Estates Ltd is now on its published list of unauthorized companies. The central bank said that it believes that its company persists as an entity that provides loans and that it has no central bank authorization to do so.
The warning message also pointed out that “it is an offense for an unauthorized company / person to provide financial services in Ireland that would require a permit under the relevant legislation”.
The central bank’s announcement refers to activity of Careysfort Asset Estates which was revealed by RTÉ Investigates in February and no activity since then.
The report revealed that Carey had defrauded at least 18 people out of a total of about half a million euros.
RTÉ Investigates understands that the delay in placing the company in the register of unauthorized companies – almost four months after the RTÉ broadcast – is due to Carey responding to the message from the central bank and defending its position vigorously.
Ms Carey is also facing an ongoing and growing guard investigation.
RTÉ Investigates understands that they run several lines of investigation and not just those related to mortgage fraud.
Carey and her company targeted people in mortgage problems and promised to buy their mortgages from their lenders at a discount and then give them a new mortgage.
It could have made it possible for people who had struggled with repayments to stay in their homes. But the new mortgages were never realized and deposits, most of which were between € 15,000 and € 35,000, were not repaid.
Since the RTÉ Investigates report, more people have come to Gardaí. RTÉ Investigates understands that around 40 alleged victims have made a statement or are in the process of arranging a statement. As many as 20 others who may have been affected at this stage are reluctant, for various reasons, to file an official complaint.
As part of their investigation, gardaí has been in contact with police and financial institutions in England where Careysfort Asset Estates is registered.
Apart from her home, gardaí has also searched a number of addresses linked to Carey, including another property registered in her name.
The victims will probably not get much, if any, of their money back.
As previously reported by RTÉ Investigates, the corporate account has been virtually drained by expenses for travel abroad, hotels, designer clothes and everyday shopping in outlets such as Circle K and Lidl.
The two-year financial statements, which list hundreds of debit cards and other transactions, showed over 200,000 euros of what appear to be expenses for goods and services for personal use.
The account was financed almost exclusively by deposits from the company’s customers. The largest single expense item shown on the bank statements was on July 21, 2020, when the account was used to purchase Carey’s BMW car, at a cost of € 55,226.
At the end of July 2020, a customer of Careysfort Asset Estates transferred € 35,000 to the company as a deposit for the mortgage repurchase program. Within a few hours, the financial statements show, a debit card linked to the company’s account was used to pay a bill of € 5,460 at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, Co Clare.
On November 19, 2019, Sharon O’Riordan, a chef at HSE, paid € 5,000 in cash as a deposit to the company. Sharon borrowed from the family to get the money. One month later, in December, the statements show that the Careysfort Asset Estates account was used to book a hotel at a Swiss ski resort for six nights. The cost per night was € 1,176 and amounted to a total of € 7,058.
The Careysfort Asset Estates account was used to finance expenses during the six-day trip to stores, restaurants and other items, amounting to € 6,976. The total expenditure during the six days was € 14,000, excluding flights.
The day after the trip ended, an additional € 10,863 was spent – € 8,000 at Kilkenny’s Michael Lyng motor dealer, € 2,080 at Welch Sports, which specializes in selling hockey equipment, and € 783 at Ez Living Furniture in Kilkenny.
Just weeks later, the account was used again to pay for another trip abroad – this time seven days in Florida. The account shows related fees of over € 22,000 for the US trip, including € 987 in a transaction on the Armani Exchange.
An analysis by RTÉ Investigates of the statements shows that approximately € 400,000 from customers of Careysfort Asset Estates has been paid into the company’s account during the two years covered.
That figure does not include cash payments, and RTÉ Investigates did not receive data for most months during the second half of 2019, when some customers paid the company.
As of January, there was only € 488.10 left in the company account.
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