The detective garda who brought fraudsters Keith Flynn and Lyndsey Clarke to justice has revealed that the spelling mistake which initially alerted a Bank of Ireland fraud official wasn't one they made — but instead one they forgot to remove.
Speaking in detail about the case to the, Det Garda Alan McCarthy of Anglesea St Garda Station said the former solicitors had downloaded a template for a Virgin Media utility bill, but omitted to remove a spelling mistake in the template, while they filled out the remainder of the fake bill — using six different false identities — correctly.
Flynn, 46, and Clarke, 37, were jailed on Monday at Cork Circuit Court having pleaded guilty to charges brought by gardaí arising out of an investigation into the large-scale fraud they operated in Cork and Dublin which ultimately cost various banks and credit unions a combined €390,000. The couple, now married, were struck off by the Law Society at the end of 2018, having been first suspended from practising on an unrelated issue in December 2016.
It has now emerged that the first three bogus bank accounts — all opened under fake identities by Lyndsey Clarke, of Blarney St in Cork — were all operational by the end of 2016.
Det Garda McCarthy revealed that the first account, with Ulster Bank, was opened in Dublin on November 15, 2016. The second account was opened with AIB, also in Dublin, on December 7 of that year, and the third account — again with Ulster Bank in Dublin — was opened on December 16.
A subsequent Law Society disciplinary tribunal in mid-2018 found the couple had ceased the practice of Keith Flynn and Co Solicitors, in November 2016. They had been suspended from practising that December.
Alan Boland of Bank of Ireland's fraud unit first noticed irregularities in some accounts in September 2017, including the spelling mistake common to six accounts.
Det Garda McCarthy said it was related to a Virgin Media bill.
"You get a template document — name, address, account number, billing info, how much outstanding," he said.
"It wasn't where they populated it, it was in the downloaded document. The mistake was in it, they didn't notice the mistake.
"That shows it wasn't their mistake."
He also revealed that when he visited some of the credit unions from which the couple had fraudulently secured loans, they at first refused to believe they had been duped.
He said footage showed Keith Flynn, originally from Ballintemple, in wig and disguise, withdrawing money from an ATM in the Cork suburb of Blackpool, and that one worker in a credit union later recalled the day Lyndsey had opened an account there because of the wig she was clearly wearing.
Det Garda McCarthy also said he understood that it was a "straight transaction" when the couple approached and secured PPS numbers from people known to homeless services, mostly in Dublin. They paid around €100 just for the numbers, which were then used to create 60 fake identities and to open 80 different accounts.
Keith Flynn was jailed for four years and Lyndsey Clarke for two years last Monday.
Det Garda McCarthy said he built up a rapport with the couple while the file was being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions as he had to regularly inform them when various accounts were being frozen. However, he said he never had any sympathy for them.
"I never get personal with any of the cases," he said. "I detach myself from the people and just focus on my job."
Det Garda McCarthy said he felt Clarke and Flynn would have found him fair to deal with and added: "They never showed any remorse to me."