A 41-year-old man who swindled a married woman he met through a dating website out of almost €19,000 is paying off “every spare penny he earns” to his victim, Ennis Circuit Court has heard.
Alan Custy of Dun na hInse, Lahinch Road, Ennis hatched a scheme where he stole by deception almost €19,000 from the “vulnerable, gullible, trusting woman” he met through smooch.com over five months in 2013.
The 47-year-old Limerick woman, who lives alone, was the second online female victim of Custy, who previously received a three-year suspended jail term in February 2012 for blackmailing a married woman who he met on connectedsingles.com.
In that case, Custy posed as a Michael Lynch and in the smooch.com case, the father-of-two posed as an Alan Casey.
Custy has been given time by Judge Gerald Keys to pay back the compensation to the Limerick woman and counsel for Custy, Patrick Whyms, BL, told Ennis Circuit Court this week that Custy is paying over all spare money he earns to the woman.
Mr Whyms said that up until Tuesday of this week, Custy had paid off €13,700 and that there was a further €1,000 available in court.
Mr Whyms said, “Mr Custy is working away and every spare penny he earns he assigns to this sum”, adding that around €18,700 is the total sum.
He said, “We have bank details that have been furnished to us and we have been transferring the monies to the complainant’s account as we go along”.
Detective Garda Claire O’Shaughnessy previously told the court that the female victim in the case lives alone and was trusting, gullible, had health problems and suffered from self-esteem issues when looking for romance online in June 2013.
At the sentencing hearing in relation to the smooch.com case, Detective O’Shaughnessy said the victim had become suspicious of Custy and contacted gardaí in November 2013, after coming across an online newspaper account of his blackmailing case.
However, by that stage, the woman had handed over €18,950 to Custy, who said that he needed money to pay off the Revenue; for the purchase of plant and machinery; for diesel and the payment of staff who were carrying out fictitious grass-cutting contracts with Clare and Limerick county councils.
The woman’s victim impact statement, read out by Detective O’Shaughnessy, said Custy’s “abuse of my good nature completely shattered my confidence in men and people in general. I don’t trust my instincts anymore and I have lost confidence in myself. Before, I took people at face value and built relationships easily. I am now a nervous participant and suspicious of new people and getting to know them. I am not the same carefree, vivacious person I was before I met him.
“On a financial side, my act of kindness ended up with me having to borrow money to pay bills and mortgage, which I am still repaying and will be for a long time to come.”
Detective O’Shaughnessy said the garda investigation involved going through hundreds of emails and text messages, while stating that Custy and the woman met several times after making initial contact through smooch.com.
On Tuesday, Judge Keys further adjourned the case to allow Custy complete paying the compensation over to his victim.