Catherine the Fake podcast: The story of florist turned fraudster Catherine O’Brien

Slippery as an eel, florist turned fraudster Catherine O’Brien has left a trail of destruction across the country — and is being hunted by the gardaí. Ann Murphy investigates the case in a new Irish Examiner podcast series
Catherine the Fake podcast: The story of florist turned fraudster Catherine O’Brien

Episode 1 — A mistress of reinvention

There is nothing ordinary about Catherine O’Brien, a woman described by neighbours in Dungarvan as someone who kept herself to herself. 

She is known to most as Catherine, while those who believed themselves close to her called her Kate, or Katie. Some knew her as Amy Power; she inhabits many different personas.

Find out how Catherine O'Brien gained the confidence of people around her, who invested in her business schemes time after time. 

Learn about the Criminal Assets Bureau judgment against her, the business dealings in which she enmeshed friends and family, and the jeep purchase that finally caught her.

 

Listen to Episode 1 on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Episode 2 — Gold digging on Waterford's copper coast

Catherine O'Brien's days as a young mother and florist in rural Waterford were — on the surface — idyllic. 

But, in a village harbouring its own mystery, O'Brien's ability to talk people out of money led to aristocratic Nicola Beresford Minihan losing both her properties to her business ventures. 

Nicola, whose finishing school education did not prepare her for meeting someone like Catherine O'Brien, recalls the destruction she wrought in her life, and the last time she met O'Brien, during a Garda investigation.

 

Listen to Episode 2 on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Episode 3 — A long way from Clare to here

After exhausting the possibility of making money in flowers in Dungarvan, Catherine O'Brien set her sights on farm-related businesses, roping in farmers from Limerick and Clare who invested extensively in businesses, some of which never existed. 

It was her online relationship with a Clare vet that introduced her to the horsey set — allowing her to aim higher and higher in the financial stakes.

 

Listen to Episode 3 on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Episode 4 — Horses for courses

Horses and associated businesses have been a part of many of Catherine O'Brien's schemes. 

High society money appealed to her, and she even tried to inveigle Senator David Norris into her schemes. But she got in too deep by getting involved with expensive thoroughbred horses — abandoning them. 

With a conviction for animal cruelty hanging over her and a bench warrant out for her arrest, she has evaded Garda detection.

Listen to Episode 4 on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

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