Irish Travelers' Scams

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The groups of nomadic peoples that are increasingly well known for their home improvement scams are known as the Irish Travelers. Over the years they have been the subject of various news stories and exposes. Almost exclusively the coverage they receive revolves in some way around a new bunco crime being perpetrated among citizens. The origins and traditions of this small clan, the types of crimes they engage in, and some of the more prominent of their schemes can be helpful in insulating oneself against victimization.

The Irish Travelers began arriving in the United States during the Great Famine in Ireland in the mid 19th century. It is believed they are descendants of landowners and laborers who were displaced by Oliver Cromwell’s military campaign in Ireland in the 1600’s. As they maintain no written records of their history, their true heritage is still of some debate. Arriving in this country they were known as the Irish Horse Traders for their dealings in the horse trading industry. It has been suggested that as far back as their arrival they were engaging in schemes to defraud potential customers.

This clan of Roman Catholics live by a strict ethos they call the “Traveler Code”. No known written code exists, except perhaps amongst the clan itself. They have a separate and distinct lifestyle in which they rarely associate with outsiders, whom they call “country people”. If in the presence of country people, the Travelers speak an ancient Gaelic-derived language called Cant. They marry within their own group, they seldom receive an education beyond elementary school and secrecy is a way of life for the Travelers. (Dateline NBC)

The largest community of Irish Travelers in the United States is known as Murphy Village a...

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Roeper, R. (2002, September 24). Mom brings baggage from Irish travelers. Retrieved from

Throne, K. (2001, June 1). Seven Irish travelers charged with fraud. The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved from
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