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Man who unlawfully claimed €17k in benefits caught by facial recognition software

CourtsBy Aoife Nic Ardghail
Laib Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Laib Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

An Algerian national who assumed a French identity to claim over €17,000 in jobseeker benefits between 2012 and 2014 was caught using facial recognition software.

Amine Laib (25) used a French passport under the name of “Riadh Karim Laheen” to get a PPS number, with which he claimed Jobseeker's Allowance from the Department of Social Protection.

The fraud was discovered when Laib applied for a PPS number as an asylum seeker under his real name in 2014 and the department's facial recognition software matched pictures on file from the PPS number given to his assumed identity. He will be sentenced tomorrow.

Laib of Mount Tallant Avenue, Harolds Cross, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 11 sample counts of stealing €124 from the Department of Social Protection at Harrington House, Harrington Street, Dublin and at his existing address between June 1, 2012 and November 11, 2014.

He also pleaded guilty to making a false French passport on a date unknown within the State. He has no previous convictions.

Garda Keith Morrissey told Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, that Laib claimed €17,768 in Jobseeker's Allowance between 2012 and 2014.

He said a social welfare inspector alerted gardaí to the fraud and officers later seized documents under Laib's two identities during a search of his home.

Laib admitted using the two names as he had no employment rights as an Algerian citizen and wanted to work in Ireland.

He told gardaí he'd felt entitled to the social welfare payments as he was working and paying taxes using the PPS number obtained with the French identity.

Gda Morrissey agreed with James Dwyer BL, defending, that the French passport had belonged to someone else.

The garda accepted that Laib had had full time employment which fell to part time and he would have been entitled to the Jobseeker's Allowance claimed if he'd been allowed to work in Ireland.

Mr Dwyer submitted to Judge Martin Nolan that Laib had followed his brother, who is now an Irish citizen, to this country in 2010.

He said his client hoped to repay the full amount, starting with €2,500 he had brought to court.

Mr Dwyer submitted that this case was different from people who “cynically abuse the system” and asked the judge to consider a non-custodial sentence.

Judge Nolan accepted Laib's motivation for the fraud was good and that he had wished to work, but said he had committed a criminal offence.

He described Laib as “an intelligent, ambitious and very hardworking young man” and remanded him in custody ahead of sentencing tomorrow.