No jail for mother who fraudulently claimed €30,000 in welfare benefits

A mother-of-five who fraudulently claimed over €30,000 in social welfare benefits in the name of her late cousin has been given a three year suspended sentence.

The fraud came to light in 2015 when Jane Fay (aged 64) applied for a public services card in her own name and the facial recognition system matched her photograph to the claim under her cousin's name.

She had stopped the fraudulent claims the previous year.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard all of the money taken will be repaid between a sum of over €22,000 already repaid by Fay and her family as well as funds frozen in a bank account in her late cousin's name which the court has ordered to be released to the Department of Social Protection.

Fay was in financial difficulties when she took up a job during the 1980s using her late cousin's name so she would not lose her deserted wife benefit. She became unwell in 2010 and was paid illness benefit in her cousin's name.

She was then made redundant and received job seekers benefit in the false name. She stopped making the fraudulent claims in September 2014.

Fay of Bawnlea Avenue, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty to making a fraudulent claim at AIB, Main Street, Tallaght on April 22, 2010. She has no previous convictions.

She had been sent forward from the district court where she had entered guilty pleas to 38 similar charges related to the fraudulent claims made between April 2010 and September 2014.

The total loss amounted to €34,781.

Judge Melanie Greally said Fay had an extremely difficult life.

She noted Fay had been deserted by her husband and left to raise five children, one of whom died tragically and another who suffers psychiatric problems. She said Fay also had a number of serious health conditions.

Judge Greally noted the testimonials which spoke highly of her attributes as a mother, friend and contributing member of her community.

She said the behaviour seemed to be at odds with how she had conducted her life in general and had sought to improve the circumstances of her family.

She imposed a three year sentence which she suspended in full.

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