Doctor nearly lost €18,000 in pension funds in email scam, court hears

A doctor narrowly avoided losing €18,000 in pension funds in an email scam when the owner of the bank account used in the scam became a suspect, a court has heard.

After giving his bank details to a friend, Alexander Cribbin (21) realized things weren’t ‘legit’ when the big deposit arrived in his account.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard a doctor transferred the money to the account because he mistakenly believed he was responding to an email from his pensions officer.

After becoming suspicious, Cribbin did nothing with the money and the bank was able to recall the funds and return them to the doctor.

Cribbin of Woodford Downs, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to possession of the proceeds of criminal conduct in the state on November 1, 2019. He has no prior convictions.

Det Garda Cathal Feeley told John Berry, prosecuting, that a doctor had been dealing by email with what he thought was his pension broker and had arranged to deposit a sum of money just over €18,000 .

Det Garda Feeley said the emails were compromised and the doctor’s email was actually received by a third party who gave the doctor Cribbin’s bank details.

The doctor then contacted his broker and she told him that she had not sent any emails. The doctor filed a request to have the money back, which was successful thanks to Cribbin’s actions, the court heard.

In an interview with gardaí, Cribbin said he was approached by a friend who had made money in “trading” and requested the use of his bank account. Cribbin gave his friend the bank details, but was then contacted via Snapchat by someone he didn’t know who told him his account would be used.

Cribbin told Gardaí that when he saw the amount of money transferred to his account, he realized it was not “legitimate”. He said he was in Paris at the time and insisted on not using the bank account for the rest of the trip.

The court heard that no one other than Cribbin had access to the account to withdraw the money, and since no funds had been spent by him, the full amount could be successfully recalled by the bank.

Det Garda Feeley said he believed Cribbin would not have withdrawn the money from his account if asked.

At a hearing last May, Judge Martin Nolan said it appeared Cribbin’s actions meant the money “could never have been taken out of the account”. He said for this reason that he would grant the accused “leniency”.

The judge said he intended to impose a deferred sentence. He said Cribbin must show good behavior for the next six months and indicated that he would impose a six-month prison sentence if Cribbin failed to comply with this condition.

On Friday, the court heard that Cribbin had complied with the terms of the postponement and the judge cleared him of the indictment.

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