‘Pyramid scheme’ netted €178,000 from investors
A Lucan man who stole €178,000 from 12 people as part of a pyramid scheme has been jailed for four years.
Eamon Shield (45), of Weston Meadows, Weston Park, Lucan, was found guilty by a jury of 25 counts involving theft and deception following a two-week trial in the Circuit Criminal Court this month.
His trial heard he set up a “pyramid scheme” in which he promised his investors he would “flip” cars repossessed by banks at a significant mark-up between June 2011 and February 2012.
The trial heard Shield placed advertisements seeking investors in national newspapers which promised a 100 per cent profit within 60 days. His 12 investors gave him sums of between €3,000 and €70,000.
“Each gave evidence to say they found him competent and persuasive,” prosecuting barrister Shane Costelloe SC told Shield’s sentence hearing last Friday
“He said he had contacts in the repossessing car business, that he was going to buy repossessed cars with the capital supplied by the investors and would flip these cars as soon as possible, providing them with a 100 per cent return in 60 days.”
However, Shield’s name was not on the register for the financial institution that dealt with selling repossessed cars, Mr Costelloe said.
Shield’s victims “all feel very foolish at the fact they were taken in”, Mr Costelloe said. Some money was paid back to the investors, with the man who paid €70,000 receiving €32,000 back. However, all 12 were left out of pocket as a result of the scheme.
The court heard Shield has a previous conviction for deception in 2005, when he sold a BMW and then tried to claim to an insurance company that it was stolen. He also has 23 road traffic convictions and two public order convictions.
In a three-page letter read out in court, Shield said: “I have deep regret at how things worked out for the peopleI’ve left out of pocket.”
He went on to say the incident had left him “stressed and anxious” and that he was the victim of a “smear campaign:” on social media. “I have also had people follow me and who have placed me under watch on this issue,” he wrote.
He continued to maintain he was operating a legitimate business, but defence barrister Ciaran O’Loughlin SC said Shield accepted the verdicts of the jury.
Mr O’Loughlin said his client was “extremely naive”.
Sentencing Shield, Judge Patricia Ryan accepted he was remorseful but noted a large amount of money was involved. She handed down a four-year sentence and said €20,000 that was left in Shield’s account would be divided amongst his victims.