Debt collector charged with €20k benefit fraud

judge hammer.jpg
judge hammer.jpg

A DEBT collector is to be sentenced next month for claiming more than €20,000 in disability benefits while working.

He faces the risk of a custodial sentence, he was warned at Dublin District Court by Judge John O'Neill who said he was granting a final adjournment.

The accused, Donal O'Neill, 46, with an address at Shanliss Avenue, Santry, Dublin 9, pleaded guilty to breaking social welfare regulations and claiming payments while he was employed.

The charges state he failed to notify the Department of Social Protection that he was commissioned for work on a contract for services basis which affected his entitlement to disability allowance, and he made a false statement.

Solicitor Joseph Maguire, for the Department, has told the court the defendant had been working for a debt collection company while claiming a disability allowance. He said the total amount of the fraud was €20,084 and O'Neill has repaid about €3,260.

He has been repaying €320 a month and at that rate it will take more than four years until he clears his debt with the Department. 

The offence can result in a fine of up to €2,500 and or a six-month sentence in addition to being made pay back the amount of benefits he wrongfully claimed. The social welfare authorities also have a mechanism to recover money owed to them after a case has been finalised, the court has also heard.

O'Neill's solicitor has said his client will continue to make payments.