A jury took just 62 minutes at the end of a five-day trial to find a small farmer guilty today of depriving seven people of €177,000.
Thomas Elvin, from Meencargagh, Ballybofey, who ran a company called Pear Shaped Resources based in the British Virgin Islands, claimed at Donegal Circuit Court that he was a penniless bible-believer who wanted to raise millions for benevolent causes.
But the jury of five women and six men believed he wanted to finance himself. Although Elvin’s defence lawyer said he had none of the trappings of a con. He had no Ferrari car, no hotels on the continent and no yacht in Donegal Bay.
50-year-old Elvin, operated from his 17-acre farm, which has 20 cows, through an Internet contact with a US aide, Larry Marsella who – the court was told – had a plan to raise 25 per cent profit a day on high-risk investments on international currency exchanges.
Elvin admitted he hoped to turn 50,000 dollars into 98 million dollars in 45 days. His own counsel said he locked himself into a delusional world through the dangers of the computer and the Internet.
His victims said he never mentioned the forex currency operation or that he was putting their money into high-risk investments.
None of the money was returned and none of the victims received a single penny in the operation between 2003 and 2005.
The victims included a former pub owner and a family with a shop in Donegal town.
But worst hit was Sharman Magee, who gave up her job in the Magee clothing factory in Donegal to care for both her elderly parents.
When he father died she and her mother invested €102,000 of his insurance policy payments through Elvin and didn’t receive any return. Her mother died when they were being scammed.
Elvin was remanded on bail for sentence on March 27 with a recommendation that he undergo a psychological assessment.