Lawyer abused over Catriona Carey ‘scam’ denies link to alleged fraudster

A lawyer who introduced distressed homeowners to alleged fraudster Catriona Carey says she suffered despicable online abuse.

Catriona Carey, an accountant who played hockey for Ireland and camogie for Kilkenny, is said to have taken €500,000 from families in financial difficulty.

RTE Investigates earlier this week reported an alleged financial scam by the businesswoman targeting people whose homes were about to be repossessed.

Now Ciara Ruschitzko, who runs a service to help lay litigants navigate the legal process, has released a statement about Ms Carey’s company, Careysfort Asset Estate Limited.

After enduring a torrent of abuse online in recent days, she said: “My first thoughts were to say nothing.

“I believed that everyone who knew me knew that I would never be involved in a [alleged] scam and the least said was the best option.

“I didn’t see the benefit of giving Keyboard Warriors an open lens.

“But when your profile picture is shared on social media with the word ‘scum’ underneath and your kids see comments about their mom, then the gloves come off.”

Ms Ruschitzko said she met Catriona Carey in 2019 through professional contacts.

She said: “Many moons ago I got involved with lay litigants who had issues with banks. My job was to help. So I helped.

“I did everything I could to help people in difficulty.

“Through professional contacts, I met Catriona Carey in 2019 and she claimed she had an offer to give people in the last chance saloon a second chance.

“I don’t think I need to elaborate because the whole country has seen the human tragedy this woman has caused.

“None of us knew when we were looking at his contracts, because there was very little on Google. Oddly, there was no reference to a previous conviction.

“So Catriona Carey introduced a limited company called Careysfort Asset Estates Ltd…I introduced her to a few people.”

Ms Ruschitzko described Catriona Carey’s approach as “always laid back”. She added that the contract stipulated that customers should do their due diligence and that Catriona Carey answered every question in writing.

Catriona Carey in 2005

She continued: ‘A deposit was required and initially it was cash. Luckily I keep all communications and in a number of them I state that I was unhappy with Catriona asking my client for a cash deposit.

“Catriona Carey produced the invoice/receipt for all cash deposits. She assured clients that all deposits were covered in her contract with them and that the contract recognizes every penny of every deposit.

“It also states that the deposit is refundable. After a while, Careysfort Asset Estates takes the deposit by bank transfer.

The lawyer said everything seemed “good” in 2019 and 2020 but then “Covid gave him an excuse not to produce contracts”. Ms Ruschitzko said in 2020 someone told her he had missed 15 appointments with Catriona Carey – but she was “so convinced” she paid for them herself to find a better mortgage.

She issued an ultimatum to Careysfort Asset Estates Ltd in August 2021 to either perform the contract or cancel it within seven days upon written permission from the people she introduced.

Ms Ruschitzko said Catriona Carey ‘told me she would have no further communication with me and would deal directly with the people who had made deposits to her’.

She said she first visited the gardai in August 2021 and started speaking to RTE Investigates in November 2021.

She added: “It’s a horrible feeling when you see your picture on social media with the word ‘scum’.

“I categorically state that I am not involved in this [alleged] cheat…

“I have never been a director or employee of Careysfort Asset Estates and I too am a victim of it.

“The only problem is that everywhere I turn I am devastated.

“Facebook, Twitter, anonymous text messages, WhatsApps, overnight phone calls, etc etc.

“It’s a sickening and shocking feeling to read the words some people write about you, especially when you’ve done all you can to help…

“There are no thoughts for families and people who get upset.

“And what is completely unbelievable is that there is no respect for the truth… Some of the screenshots I have seen have kept me awake and made me fear for my safety.”

Ciara Rouschitzko
Ciara Rouschitzko

On Monday, RTE Investigates revealed the alleged scam shedding light on the fate of more than 15 people who collectively paid Careysfort €500,000 in deposits.

Ms Carey’s proposal was to buy distressed loans from banks at a knockdown price and resell them to homeowners at a dramatically reduced rate.

RTE Investigates revealed that bank statements from Careysfort Asset Estates showed that customer deposits were used to pay for a flash car and a lavish holiday.

Over €200,000 was reportedly spent on goods and services for personal use, including €22,000 on a trip to Florida and over €55,000 on a BMW car.

Last month, there was only €488.10 left in the account to pay off owners’ deposits.

Ms. Carey is the sole director and owner of Careysfort Asset Estates.

About 15 people complained about Ms Carey to the Garda after handing over large sums of money to her company.

A Garda spokesperson told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “Gardai in Carlow is investigating reports of a number of suspected incidents of fraud.

“Investigations are ongoing.”

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