An asylum-seeker who assumed a false identity to allow him to work in Ireland, before claiming €50,000 in social welfare payments when he lost his job, has avoided going to prison.
Samba Sow claimed entitlements including job seekers’ benefit, job seekers’ allowance and rent allowance under the name Moussa Sow over a four-year period between 2011 and 2014.
His deception was flagged by the Department of Social Protection’s facial recognition system when he was made legal in 2015, tried to drop his false identity and regularise his situation, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Tuesday.
Sow (55) with an address in Kilakee Way, Firhouse, Dublin pleaded guilty to 18 counts of stealing social welfare payments from Phibsborough Post Office, North Circular Road, Dublin 7 and AIB in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 between April 2011 and December 2014.
Handing down a suspended two-year sentence, Judge Catherine Murphy noted that although Sow claimed his entitlements under a false name, he never tried to claim double payments. “As soon as he was given an alternative social welfare payment, he ceased claiming the first payment,” she said.
Garda Nigel Daly told Dean Kelly BL, prosecuting, that Sow arrived in Ireland from Senegal in 2007 and claimed asylum. He was placed in direct provision in Tralee, Co Kerry and received a payment of €19 a week.
Sow then paid €900 for a French passport with the name Moussa Sow which allowed him to work in the country. He acquired a PPS number under this name and worked in a pub in Dublin for the next four years. While working, he paid income tax and PRSI.
Mr Kelly said Sow was made redundant during the recession and started claiming social welfare payments under the name Moussa Sow. He claimed a total of €50,006 over the next four years, the court heard.