Tourist tried to fund holiday using fake cash
Court: Man used replica notes to get change
A Moray tourist has admitted scamming town centre shops in a misguided attempt to fund his family’s holiday in the north of Scotland.
Thomas McDonagh, from Northern Ireland, conned businesses in Forres with fake £50 bank notes to get legitimate cash in change.
The 32-year-old was staying at a caravan park in Nairn during May with his wife and four children in a bid to ensure their trip was a memorable one.
However, the alarm was raised when concerned shop assistants took the money to a High Street bank in order to check their authenticity.
Police later found McDonagh attempting to hide from them beneath a bush with more of the incriminating faked bank notes scattered at his feet.
Appearing at Elgin Sheriff Court yesterday, he admitted two charges of pretending to two shops that the fake counterfeit cash he spent was genuine.
Defence solicitor Ian Maltman revealed his client had bought the replica Northern Bank notes from a friend and “took the chance” to use them to fund his holiday.
Mr Maltman said: “Mr McDonagh was in the area with his family, staying for a short period in the area at a caravan park in Nairn.
“He acquired these notes from an acquaintance and took the chance that he could exchange them for genuine funds to use during the holiday.”
Sheriff Olga Pasportnikov said: “He appears to have hatched a plot.”
McDonagh used one of the counterfeit £50 notes in Nickel and Dime in Forres on May 8 – using it to buy goods worth about £5 and gaining about £45 in genuine cash in change.
The other note was used in McColl’s on the town’s High Street the same day – where he bought two meals and a chocolate bar.
Investigations later proved the notes to be fake after bank staff found they were “not shiny” and the fluorescent lines on them were “not straight”.
Fiscal Alex Swain said: “Police were contacted and traced the accused hiding under a bush. There was money lying on the ground where he was hiding.”
Sergeant Chris Harris praised the quick thinking from the business owners to allow the police to take action.
He added: “Please ensure that all notes are robustly examined to establish their authenticity and if there are suspicions something is not quite right decline it and contact police as soon as possible.”
McDonagh, of Mill View Manor in Dungannon, was sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £50 compensation to both shops.
“There was money lying on the ground where he was hiding”
PRETENCE: Thomas McDonagh at Elgin Sheriff Court after admitting using fake banknotes