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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Two sentenced for fraudulently claiming Pandemic Unemployment Payments

Two men have been sentenced for fraudulently claiming over €180,000 in Pandemic Unemployment Payments.

Oluwagbewikeke Lewis (36) received a three-year sentence and is believed to have played a more prominent role in the fraud while Bashiru Aderibigbe (45) received a two-and-a-half-year sentence.

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Both Lewis and Aderibigbe have addresses in Cork and pleaded guilty to laundering over €180,000 between April and December 2020.

Lewis had also pleaded guilty to 11 other counts which included possession of forged passports, forged bank statements and a stolen UK passport.

He received a concurrent two-year sentence on these charges. Judge Helen Boyle accepted that the fraud was coordinated by a criminal organisation that Gardaí believe is based in Nigeria and operates across several countries.

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Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that the money was taken using stolen PPS numbers that belonged to 74 HSE and Tusla employees which were obtained from an email scam following a data breach.

As a result, 121 fraudulent applications for PUP were made, which totalled €183,491 paid into 57 separate bank accounts.

The State suspended the 57 bank accounts containing €32,459 while €30,000 was transferred to German banks. The whereabouts of the remaining €120,000 are unknown.

IMAGE – “Criminal Courts of Justice, Dublin.” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by infomatique

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