A HOTEL worker fraudulently claimed more than €31,000 in benefits from the Department of Social Protection after he “bought” another person’s PPSN, a court has heard.
Details of the elaborate scam emerged at Limerick Court when Lateef Adigun Musiabau, aged 28, with addresses at South Circular Road and Nicholas Street pleaded guilty to several offences.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly was told the defendant, who is originally from Sierra Leone, used the second PPSN and a false id to secure employment.
While working at a city hotel he fraudulently claimed Jobseekers and Back to Education allowances using his own PPSN.
All of the offences happened on dates between January 29, 2010 and August 16, 2011.
Social Welfare inspector Fergus Murphy said the PPSN, which was used by Mr Adigun Musiabau in his employment, was a legitimate PPSN, which belongs to a Belgian national who left the country more than a decade ago.
Mr Murphy agreed with solicitor Sarah Ryan that due to his status, the defendant was not entitled to work in this country at the time he committed the fraud. “It would have been an offence for the hotel to employee him without a (work) permit,” he said.
The court was told the Department of Social Protection regards the offences as very serious as they have the potential to undermine the integrity of and the PPSN system.
He said the same PPSN number, which was used by Mr Adigun Musiabau, was also used by another individual who was working at a restaurant in the city around the same time.
That man, he said, was prosecuted recently at Ennis Court as he lives in County Clare.
Ms Ryan said her client bought the PPSN number and false id from an individual who approached him at the asylum hostel where he was staying at the time.
She said the father-of-one secured new employment late last year and was willing to repay €10 per week to the department.
However, Judge Eugene O’Kelly rejected the offer commenting that the defendant will be entitled to receive the State pension by the time the monies are repaid.
The judge said Mr Adigun Musiabau had “knowingly worked and claimed social welfare” and that there are certain points where the Court must draw the line. “The taxpayers who have been funding this fraud need to see it is unacceptable,” he said.
He imposed prison sentences totalling 21 months.
Leave to appeal was granted.