Six people alleged to have used false passports, P60s, and other counterfeit documentation to con financial institutions out of nearly €1m have been arrested as part of a major garda inquiry into mortgage fraud.
The Irish Examiner understands that they are part of an organised group of people who aided and abetted the withdrawal of cash from a number of financial institutions to purchase existing properties throughout Cork City and county.
Gardaí were last night remaining tight-lipped about the scam, but it is believed the four men and two women were involved in helping to organise mortgage buy-outs on existing properties in the region.
It is not yet clear how they benefited from the scam, but informed sources say that mortgage payments were approved to people who were not who they pertained to be.
Gardaí don’t yet know who benefited from the scam, but it is understood money was paid out by the financial institutions for a number of buy-outs of properties.
The mortgage holders appeared to be bona fide and made repayments on the loans for a few months. However, all of a sudden they stopped.
When the financial institutions went seeking the supposed mortgage repayer, they found that the names supplied were false and were unable to recoup their money.
Most of the alleged frauds occurred around the height of the Celtic Tiger economy in 2007, and the values of the properties involved have decreased considerably since then.
Garda sources confirmed that they had arrested six people early yesterday as part of their “ongoing inquiry”.
The people were being detained at garda stations in Gurranabraher and The Bridewell in Cork City, and in Mallow, Midleton, and Kanturk.
Those detained are said to be in their 20s to 50s, and are all Irish.
They were being held under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, which is designed to interrogate people involved in organised crime.
They can be held in custody for up to seven days before they have to be either charged to appear before the courts of released without charge.
The early morning operations, which targeted seven premises in the county, was led by the Garda Fraud Investigation Unit, based at Anglesea Street Garda Station, Cork City.
They were being aided by detectives based in other regions.
Searches were carried out at seven premises in the city and county.
In one case in Mallow, detectives also seized around €5,000 worth of mature cannabis plants.
They arrested a man in his 20s, who was already under suspicion of being involved in the mortgage scam.
During the raids, gardaí seized a number of documents at the houses which they will be analysing as part of their investigation.
A senior garda source the investigation had being ongoing for “a significant number of months” and he expected it to be extended.
“This is the initial enforcement [phase] of the operation. They have been arrested on suspicion of organised criminal activity,” he said.
He said detectives believe that those arrested may not have benefited significantly from the fraud and they may have been influenced by another group of people who made a profit.
Already, several hundred manhours have been put in by fraud squad detectives working on the painstaking investigation.
The Irish Examiner has learned that men in their 20s are in custody in Mallow and Midleton, a man in his late 40s is in the Bridewell, a woman in her late 40s in being detained in Kanturk, and a man and a woman, believed to be middle-aged are being held in Gurranabraher.
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