Gardaí investigate if Roscommon man was duped into €15m face-mask scam

Gardaí are investigating if a Roscommon businessman was duped into taking part in a €15 million scam carried out by criminals exploiting the demand for face masks during the coronavirus crisis.

The 48-year-old businessman was interviewed voluntarily by gardaí from the National Economic Crime Bureau last Friday. He is suspected of acting as a middleman for a scam transaction for face masks after €1.5 million was traced to an Irish bank account he owned.

The money came from German health authorities desperate to secure face masks for their frontline staff.

During a lengthy interview, the man denied knowingly taking part in the fraud and said he was also a victim. He said he had believed he was taking part in a legitimate business deal and provided gardaí with digital devices which he said would prove his innocence.

Gardaí are currently examining the man’s devices and email accounts to see if they corroborate his story.

Investigators believe his involvement in the transaction is much greater than the use of his bank account. Gardaí have evidence he travelled to Germany and the Netherlands in relation to the transfers of funds that occurred.