Belfast Telegraph

Bank of Ireland worker swindled £125K out of friends

Shamed fraudster faces jail over 'ponzi' scheme

By Paul Higgins

THIS is the devious fraudster who fleeced thousands from her friends in a dodgy pyramid scheme and who faces jail tomorrow.

Shamed banker Lisa McIlroy abused the trust of many of her now former closest friends with two different sophisticated fraud plots - with one victim swindled out of £60,000.

The schemes were described in court as a "financial house of cards" which came tumbling down around the 32-year-old who was a Bank of Ireland employee.

Remanding the Dunmurry woman into custody at Craigavon Crown Court, Judge Donna McColgan said she would sentence the conwoman tomorrow.

"This was clearly a significant fraud involving quite a number of people, some of whom regarded themselves as her closest friends," said the judge. "There was a breach of trust in many aspects of this case and the consequences of that are inevitable."

A prosecuting lawyer said it was McIlroy herself who alerted the cops to the frauds. But instead of being honest about her crimes, she painted herself as a victim by claiming that a man called 'Michael Monaghan' had disappeared leaving her with a personal loss of £16,000 and with substantial monies outstanding to others.

The lawyer said police enquiries could find no trace of the elusive Mr Monaghan because he did not exist and it became clear that McIlroy had been operating a Ponzi scheme.

The lawyer said McIlroy used her position in the Andersonstown branch of the Bank of Ireland to lead the victims to believe she had access to special products, currency exchange rates and deals which were not available to the public.

"It appears that the currency exchange transactions were used as a means to establish the defendant's bona fides and to establish trust with the victim, prior to the offers of 'investment opportunity' being made," he said.

That 'investment opportunity' formed the basis for the ponzi, or pyramid scheme, where McIlroy told her unsuspecting victims that she could invest their hard-earned cash guaranteeing a return of £330 on every £1,000 invested every six months.

McIlroy, from Glengoland Park, pleaded guilty to 12 offences -five counts of committing fraud by falsely representing the investment scheme and seven counts of theft of cash - all committed on various dates between February 2013 and February 2014.

McIlroy swindled £83,000 including £60k from one victim while the charges of theft amount to a total of £42,065 - a total of £125,065.

"The victims of this fraudulent activity were all persons known to the defendant, living in the same area and several were close friends," said the prosecutor.

The lawyer said that when cops examined McIlroy's bank accounts, they discovered she would make significant deposits and then travel abroad, primarily to the USA.

Defence barrister Sean Devine said McIlroy accepted responsibility but had not envisaged that it would all end so badly.

"It spiralled out of control," he said, adding that it was a matter of deep regret to McIlroy that people she was very close to, and fond of, had suffered.

He said McIlroy remains determined to pay back the cash she stole but the judge pointed out, "she will have great difficulty finding employment with a record of this nature."

One of her victims told Sunday Life: "I don't believe for one second that I'll even get a penny back. I trusted her. I knew her through a family member so I got her to change money for me but that's how she did it, she groomed people to gain their trust."

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