How fraudsters used lockdown to lure Irish victims into boats and caravans scam
08 Jul 2020

With three decades in construction under his belt and his family almost reared, Philip Doyle dared to dream a little during the lockdown period. A recreational diver in his spare time and already part-owner of a small boat, he decided he would invest in a larger vessel of his own.

It would be nothing fancy; a power boat with a small cab to sleep in overnight so he could sail it from place to place and stay out for a few days. Enough for a bit of fishing or diving by day, and comfortable enough for a few beers in the evening. He would even bring his dogs along.

But in the space of three days in early May his dream turned to dust. The married father of four from Bray, Co Wicklow, fell victim to a very polished scam.

“I felt like a fool, to be straight with you; no two ways about it,” he says when asked about realising the 6.5m Quicksilver power boat he had paid just over €13,000 for only existed in a photograph. “It was nice little dream I had, but I’ll have to put that back a few years.”

He contacted the Garda immediately, and was happy with its response, while also contacting the banks. However, he later learned that other Irish people had fallen victim to the same scam over the following two months and felt “very disheartened” at that news.

At least 12 Irish victims have lost a total of €83,000 after they paid it to the same fraudulent boat sales site Mr Doyle used and another seemingly related site selling caravans and camper vans. However, there are many more victims, including one in Sweden who has lost €20,000.

The websites offered to deliver boats, caravans and campers to clients in Ireland who were unable to go to the United Kingdom to collect them due to coronavirus travel restrictions. Because of that offer, the sites drew in a lot of Irish victims. Those taken in by the scam are convinced the two websites, which appeared on the internet in March and April, are being run by the same people because of their identical layout and modus operandi.

By Conor Lally, Irish Times, 8 July 2020

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Photo (cropped and edited): Tim Ove [CC-BY-2.0] via Flickr

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