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.
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.
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