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Woman accused of operating charity scam to steal from elderly victims had £100 hidden in her bra, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 15/09/2015

A woman accused of operating a charity scam to steal from elderly victims had £100 hidden in her bra, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors said police found the cash on Dinarca Almas after she was stopped on a Co Down high street.

 The 21-year-old Romanian national allegedly plundered the purses of pensioners in Donaghadee and Bangor while claiming she was collecting for the deaf.

 Almas, with an address at Harford Street in Portadown, faces charges of thefts totaling £270, fraud by false representation, making and possessing articles connected with fraud, unlawful charitable collection, and obstructing police.

 Bail was refused due to fears she may flee or re-offend if released.

 She is accused of targeting one 65-year-old woman at a charity shop in Donaghadee on July 8.

 Conor Maguire, prosecuting, said the victim was approached and followed out of the premises by three foreign nationals.

 He told the court the trio - all women - circled round her and asked for a donation to a deaf charity.

 It was claimed that the group placed a clipboard over her handbag and asked her to sign up.

 The woman later discovered £200 in cash had been taken from her purse, allegedly while the board covered her bag.

 Six weeks later she spotted Almas and another of the suspected thieves while shopping in Bangor, according to the prosecution.

 At that stage, on August 22, they were talking to an elderly couple. Police arrested the pair on the town's Main Street.

 Mr Maguire said a search of Almas recovered a deaf charity collection sheet, a black folder and another document headed 'Missions'.

 He added: "A further search located £100 hidden in her bra."

 Another charity sheet was found on her 15-year-old co-accused.

 The 75-year-old woman who encountered the foreign nationals confirmed they had been seeking donations for the deaf, the court heard.

 Mr Maguire said she had given them money from her purse, but later discovered £70 was missing.

 Seeking bail for Almas to live at an address in the Republic, defence counsel argued that the teenage suspect has already been released.

 But Lord Justice Gillen held there was a risk she could commit similar offences or fail to turn up for trial.

 The judge pointed out how she is accused of  "a persistent course of conduct, each time involving elderly people".

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