A woman who used a false PPS number to claim over €15,000 in unemployment benefits has received a two year suspended sentence.
The court heard that Moldovan national, Axenia Alexei (30), came to Ireland in 2009 and used a false Latvian passport she had bought online to obtain a PPS number, so she could work.
Garda David Smith accepted Alexei had been working and paying taxes in Ireland until 2011. She began to use the false PPS number to claim Jobseekers Allowance when she lost her job.
Alexei, a mother-of-one of Rossvale, Portlaoise, Co Laoisleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing a total of €15, 339 from the Department of Social Protection at Swords Post Office, Swords, Dublin between July 2012 and March 2014.
She also pleaded guilty to possessing a fake Latvian passport at her home on September 15, 2014. She has no previous convictions.
Gda Smith agreed with Tom Neville BL, defending, that Alexei had been entitled to work legally in Ireland since 2012 and could have claimed Jobseeker's Allowance using her real PPS number.
Judge Martin Nolan calculated that Alexei could have claimed over €7,000 had she used her real PPS number.
Garda Smith told Cormac Quinn BL, prosecuting, that Alexei's offending was discovered after she had been arrested for shoplifting.
Alexei, who has a masters degree in civil law from Romania, apologised and told gardai she had been struggling to pay for basic needs since she had lost her job in a shop.
Gda Smith told Mr Quinn that Alexei had worked for a time in 2012 using her real PPS number and had simultaneously claimed benefits with the false PPS number.
The garda agreed with Mr Neville that this work in 2012 had not been full time and that Alexei had never claimed for Child Benefit.
Mr Neville submitted to Judge Nolan that his client hoped to open a business with her partner in the future and had saved €2,000 so far as compensation.
He asked the judge to take into consideration Alexei's early plea, her admissions and the fact that she would have been entitled to unemployment benefit had she not “used the wrong mechanism.”
Judge Nolan suspended the sentence for two years and ordered that the €2,000 be handed over to the Department of Social Protection.
He gave Alexei a futher two years to pay back €6,000, taking into consideration the amount she would have been entitled to using her real PPS number.