A Moldovan woman who bought a stolen social welfare number and false passport for €600 so she could work legally in Ireland has been given a 12-month suspended sentence and 150 hours community service.
Ludmila Caraus (aged 27) of Harolds Cross Road, Harolds Cross, had been smuggled into this country illegally on a truck in April 2006. She then assumed Erika Blujute’s identity to allow her to get work, a driver’s license and open a bank account.
She pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to handling stolen property, using a false public service number and possession of a false Lithuanian passport on December 12, 2008.
Caraus had no previous convictions and had never come to garda attention in Ireland. She now has dual Romanian and Moldovan citzenship.
Garda Ciaran O’Sullivan agreed with Mr Gareth Robinson BL, defending, that Caraus had paid tax on the three jobs she had obtained and that she had stolen Ms Blujute’s identity as “a means to an end rather than a means to defraud the State”.
Garda O’Sullivan told Mr Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting, that Ms Blujute had had applied for a PPS number but never received it in the post. She later rang social welfare who gave the number to her again and she started work in November 2003.
Ms Blujute later noticed that the tax she paid on her wages rose from 20% to 40% even though her earnings had not increased.
She later lost her job but when she applied for the dole, she was told she was not entitled to it as she was already registered as working with three other companies.
Ms Blujute went to a coffee shop that she had been registered as working with and was told there was a woman in their employment who had been using her name. Caraus was identified and arrested by gardaí.
Caraus told Judge Katherine Delahunt that she “was truly sorry for what she had done”.
Judge Delahunt said this was “not a victimless crime” as Ms Blujute lost out on social welfare payments that she had been entitled to.
“You profited from this crime and had no hesitation in doing so,” she told Caraus before she suspended the sentence on the condition that she pay €1,000 to Ms Blujute and carry out 150 hours community service.