A fraudster scammed €1,000s from his victims who were hoping to work for agricultural contractors in New Zealand, listeners to RTE's Liveline heard this week.

Robert Flanagan from Northern Ireland told Joe Duffy how he lost £2,500 (€2,880) when a man called Niall Minogue promised to set him up with a job working for a contractor in New Zealand.

Flanagan got in touch with Minogue, who said he ran a recruitment firm called Quality Global Personnel, through social media.

"I was interested in going to work in New Zealand. He had a Facebook page. It was called Silage Work New Zealand, so I contacted him via that," Flanagan said.

At first Flanagan was told he was too old; but the fraudster got back in contact and both men agreed to meet in a hotel in Dublin. Prior to the meeting Flanagan was told to bring €500 with him.

He talked the talk; he showed us CVs. The €500 was to go towards the work that he would do in getting a really good CV done up.

This meeting took place in January 2015, with the deal being that Flanagan would travel to New Zealand the following September.

"He told me he would need another commitment from me for both him and his contacts in New Zealand. He said he would need the airfare paid up-front.

Looking back on it, I should have caught on what was happening.

"But I was just so focused on getting out to New Zealand for extra work, because it was coming into our winter time and work was drying up.

"You were basically stepping on a plane in Ireland at the end of our season and you would arrive when the New Zealand season was just starting," he said.

Flights had never been booked

Having borrowed the money to pay for the flights, Flanagan had to hand over an additional £250 (€288) for his visa, bringing the eventual total he had paid Minogue to £2,500 (€2,880).

As Flanagan was preparing to depart for New Zealand, he discovered Minogue had never booked flights for him at all.

I was determined that I was going, so I had to borrow the money again.

"I have been in contact with a lot of lads from up and down Ireland. This has been going on for years. I can't understand how he was getting away with it," Flanagan said.

Group of 10 conned out of €25,000

Meanwhile, Paul Reidy was one person in a group of ten that was conned out of €25,000 by the alleged fraudster from Co. Kilkenny.

"It was advertised that he would send people out to New Zealand, Canada and America – working with contractors at silage or grain, or anything you wanted.

"It said he would set you up with a visa, accommodation and put you in contact with a contractor. It eventually came through that he went missing; coming closer to the day he wouldn't answer the phone," Reidy said.

Reidy confirmed that the 'service' Minogue offered seemed to be very professional, leading him to hand in his notice where he worked at the time before preparing to go to New Zealand.

I couldn't go back to work after that and I hadn't the price of a ticket to New Zealand. So I had to go looking for work again.

Despite Reidy and his friends making statements to Gardai, they were told it was unlikely they would get their money back.

The group decided against legal proceedings as they saw it as a case of 'throwing good money after bad', with little hope of recovering the thousands they had lost, Reidy added.

It is believed the fraudster is currently serving a prison sentence in a Cork prison for fraud offences.