A woman who posed as a UN diplomat and took nearly €9,000 from a Japanese woman in Dublin Airport has been given a suspended three-year sentence.
Agata Pracz, aged 39,of Swords, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to dishonestly inducing Yumi Takekoshi to hand over €8,990 on July 15, 2014 by promising her access to a container filled with cash.
Garda Enda Ledwith previously told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Ms Takekoshi, a 58-year-old Tokyo woman, was contacted through social media site LinkedIn by a woman purporting to a be a “two-star US general” based in Dublin Airport.
The ‘general’ told Ms Takekoshi a container filled with currency to the value of $10.5m (€6.8m) was at a bonded warehouse in Dublin and that she would give Ms Takekoshi access to it for the sum of €8,990.
Ms Takekoshi flew to Dublin on July 15, 2014, where she met a woman claiming to be a UN diplomat named Sandra Daly.
“That woman was actually the accused,” Gda Ledwith said.
Pracz took Ms Takekoshi to a bar in Dublin Airport and took the money from her before promising to call her with details of the container full of cash, the court heard. However, Ms Takekoshi became suspicious after the meeting and took a taxi to the Japanese embassy, which contacted the gardaí.
Pracz, a Polish national, was arrested on the M1 motorway some days after this incident after gardaí recognised her car from Dublin airport CCTV footage.
She claimed she met a man named ‘James’ of Nigerian or Ghanaian background in a pub who organised the deal with Ms Takekoshi and she was just the “cash collector”, Gda Ledwith said.
She said she got involved in the scam after she got into financial difficulties.
When gardaí searched Pracz’s home, they recovered just over €4,000 and a laptop. Gda Ledwith said Pracz claimed she had tried to get in touch with James but could not so she spent the other half of the money on paying off her debts.
The court heard Pracz has lived in Ireland since 2006 and has no previous convictions in the country. She has three convictions for fraud-related offences in Poland.
Sentencing Pracz yesterday, Judge Patrick McCartan said he had “difficulty accepting the case in its entirety”.
“All of the evidence suggests she is a different person than what was presented to me on the evidence,” he said.
The judge said he believed Pracz was the recipient of “100%” of the money.
“But I have to accept the evidence as it’s presented,” the judge said, noting that Pracz had fully repaid the money taken from Ms Takekoshi.
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