A NORTHERN Irish woman who stole thousands of pounds from her friends through a pyramid scheme scam has been jailed for 12 months.
Bank of Ireland employee Lisa McIlroy was sentenced at Craigavon Crown Court this morning, the Belfast Telegraph reports, where she had previously 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.
The court heard that McIlroy, from Glengoland Park, Dunmurry, had swindled her friend’s out of thousands of pounds over the course of a year using two different scam schemes.
One victim alone lost £60,000 to the 42-year-old.
Ahead of sentencing, Judge Donna McColgan said: "This was clearly a significant fraud involving quite a number of people, some of whom regarded themselves as her closest friends.
“There was a breach of trust in many aspects of this case and the consequences of that are inevitable."
In prosecution, a lawyer told the court that McIlroy had been operating a Ponzi – or pyramid - scheme, using her position in the Andersonstown branch of the Bank of Ireland to lead victims to believe she had access to special products, exchange rates and deals unavailable to the public.
He explained that her pyramid scheme saw McIlroy tell victims she would invest their cash and net them a return of £330 on every £1,000 invested every six months.
McIlroy swindled £83,000, including £60k from one victim, while further charges of theft amount to a total of £42,065 - totalling £125,065 in stolen cash.
"The victims of this fraudulent activity were all persons known to the defendant, living in the same area and several were close friends," the prosecutor confirmed.
Defence barrister Sean Devine said McIlroy accepted responsibility for and regretted her actions, claiming it "spiralled out of control", before adding that she intended to pay back the stolen cash.
McIlroy was sentened to 12 months behind bars and a further 12 months on licence upon her release.