Teen avoids jail for concert ticket and phone scam

A 17-year-old who conned 22 people out of over €8,500 through a scheme of advertising non-existent concert tickets and iPhones online has been given a two-year suspended sentence.

Derek Whelan, now 19, placed ads on adverts.ie and donedeal.ie, and asked customers to lodge the cash in either an AIB or Permanent TSB account.

When one man complained that he never received the concert tickets he had paid €130 for, Whelan asked for his Visa Debit card details so he could refund him. The teenager then used the man’s card details to buy a phone for €220.

A number of people paid between €380 and €600 for concert tickets that they never received, while other people paid between €275 and €295 for iPhones that were never posted out to them.

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Whelan was easily caught by gardaí because he used his own card details to pay for the initial advertisements on the websites and provided customers with his mobile phone number and name. He was arrested on June 14, 2014, interviewed by gardaí and released without charge.

He conned another man out of €380 four days later.

Whelan, of Moorefield Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 24 counts of theft on dates between August 2013 and June 2014.

He has no previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan gave Whelan a two-year sentence but suspended it for two years on condition that he keeps the peace for two years and abides by probation supervision orders for 18 months.

Judge Nolan ordered Whelan to pay €1,000 to investigating gardaí within 10 days. This will be distributed among the victims.

The judge warned Whelan, who had spent the previous night in custody, that jail was “his future” if he re-offends.

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“It’s up to you to decide whether you want to go down that road or not,” said Judge Nolan.

He said Whelan was “a young man of ability” who had no criminal record and has taken steps to reform himself.

“He hadn’t the best start in life and, until this fall from grace, he had been going along OK,” said the judge.

Garda Andrew O’Donnell told Sinead McGrath BL, prosecuting, that Whelan told officers in his first interview that someone else had been using his laptop and identity.

He made admissions in the second interview and apologised for his actions.

Whelan was released without charge but was interviewed again in July 2014 where he continued to co-operate with the garda investigation.

He claimed he had been under pressure to repay a debt and had set up the scheme because he had no other source of income.

Gda O’Donnell agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending Whelan, that “all roads led back to him” as he had used his own credit card and phone details to set up the advertisements.

Mr Bowman said his client had €1,000 in court “to make recompense”, which Gda O’Donnell agreed was a “considerable sum” considering his background.

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