A 52-year-old woman who fraudulently claimed €69,000 in carer’s allowance for her minding her elderly mother in Cork when she was actually living in London used the money to holiday in Barbados, Morocco and other places.
Garda John Dineen, who is seconded to the Department of Social Protection, said Mary O’Callaghan of Woodvale Road, Beaumont, Blackrock, Cork, used a significant amount of the money she defrauded for a significant amount of foreign travel.
He said she was very co-operative with the investigation since she was first approached by gardaí and gathered €10,000 in compensation. Defence barrister, Nikki O’Sullivan, said that sum had been handed over.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said, “It is an egregious type of offence. She knew she was not entitled to claim it. She was not even living in the country. I don’t know who was caring for her mother when she was not here.”
Ms O’Sullivan BL said the defendant’s son was caring for the defendant’s mother in Cork.
The judge wanted to know what was proposed in relation to further compensation. Ms O’Sullivan said, “She is hoping she will put significant sums together.” The barrister added that the defendant’s ability to earn money in London would increase with the relaxation of Covid restrictions.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said, “I will remand her on bail until June 16 to see what further steps she can take. We will look at it then.” Garda Dineen said there were 243 counts of theft representing a total of over €69,000 by fraudulently claiming carer’s allowance for minding her mother in Cork when she (the defendant) was living in London. Payments were made to her from 2013 to 2019.
“It came to the Department’s attention she was not living in the country. A Social Welfare inspector made various enquiries with Ryanair. He witnessed her flying in from Gatwick. And an investigation commenced,” Garda Dineen said.
While there was reference to a much bigger number of charges, the defendant was charged with a total of 20 sample counts of theft.
The 20 counts related to various amounts, mainly €204 but one was for €10,608 – namely a back-payment from 2014 to 2013 to when the application was initially made.
The location for the offences was Ballintemple post office and the charges stated that the amounts were stolen from the Department of Social Protection, contrary to the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud) Act.