A man who used two identities to accumulate over €280,000 in social welfare payments between 1999 and 2015 would not have been caught without the introduction of facial recognition software, a court was told.
Adrian Vaduva (44), originally from Romania but with an address at Schoolyard, Riverchapel, Gorey, Co Wexford, pleaded guilty at Wexford Circuit Court to theft using basic social welfare payments, rent allowance and supplementary welfare allowance.
He was Tuesday given a three-year prison sentence, with the last nine months suspended, backdated to when he was arrested and taken into custody on June 30th last.
The court heard that he first arrived in Ireland in 1998 and was refused asylum but returned the following year, under the assumed name of Eduard Preda, and granted asylum. He then began collecting social welfare using this false identity.
When Romania joined the EU in 2008, he became eligible to collect social welfare under his own name and began doing so, while also collecting payments as Eduard Preda.
Between 1999 and mid-2015 he collected a total of €280,828 using the two identities, Garda Kevin Heffernan, on secondment with the Department of Social Protection, told the court.
He received €161,000 of this under the name Eduard Preda during that 17-year period, and the remainder under his own name.
In recent years, the Department of Social Protection introduced a new public service card which meant that every person receiving a payment was invited into a departmental office and had their photo taken.