Pensioner, 72, claimed €200k during 18-year welfare fraud
A PENSIONER who used two PPS numbers to steal more than €200,000 in benefits from the Exchequer over a period of around 18 years has been given a suspended sentence.
Catherine Simpson, 72, fraudulently claimed deserted wives’ allowance and the non-contributory State pension under her married name, while working a variety of jobs using her maiden name of Maguire.
The court heard that Simpson moved to Ireland from England in the 1990s with her children to escape an abusive marriage, and had initially been entitled to claim deserted wives’ allowance. The fraud began when Simpson began working under her maiden name, paying PRSI and receiving benefits including jobseekers’ benefit, illness benefit and the contributory State pension.
The fraud came to light after facial image matching technology was introduced by the Department of Social Protection.
Simpson, of Avonbeg Court, Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to ten sample counts of social welfare fraud committed between 1998 and 2016, totalling €206,696.09.
She admitted claiming deserted wives’ allowance between January 1, 1998, and April 21, 2011.
She further admitted claiming the non-contributory State pension between April 22, 2011, and February 4, 2016, as a basic-rate, means-tested payment with a living alone allowance and a free fuel allowance.
Judge Karen O’Connor sentenced her to three years in prison but suspended it in full, noting that Simpson felt ‘a great remorse and shame’ and had endured a very difficult life.