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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

Woman (67) jailed for 16 months for falsely claiming €150,000 in social welfare payments

She falsely claimed the carer’s allowance and then falsely claimed job seeker’s allowance.

A WOMAN WHO falsely claimed €150,000 in social welfare payments has been jailed for 16 months.

Susan Foley (67) of St Ronan’s Drive, Ronanstown, Clondalkin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dishonestly by deception inducing the payment of €75,695.90 of carer’s allowance at Permanent TSB, Ballyfermot, on dates between 21 January, 2004 and 15 September, 2010.

Foley also pleaded guilty to dishonestly by deception inducing the payment of €75,185.90 job seekers allowance at Clondalkin post office, on dates between 16 September, 2010 and 28 November, 2017. Foley has no previous convictions.

Passing sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan noted in mitigation that Foley had made full admissions, co-operated with the investigation and entered into an arrangement to repay the money.

He acknowledged Foley had a hard life with many burdens but said the fraud had been long in nature and that Foley had aggravated the situation by repeating the deception in 2010.

Judge Nolan imposed a 16 month sentence.

Garda Anne Masterson told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, a higher executive officer (HEO) in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection noticed that the photographs linked to two different social welfare claims were of the same woman.

Masterson said she retrieved all documents relating to both cases and obtained a warrant for the accused’s address. During the search, Foley made certain admissions to gardaí.

Foley began claiming an invalidity pension in the 1990s due to her suffering from epilepsy. In 2004 she applied for carer’s allowance as her mother was in ill health, but did not disclose that she was already receiving payments for the invalidity pension under her married name Susan Cleary.

She ceased claiming for carer’s allowance in 2010 following her mother moving into a nursing home. She then began to claim job seeker’s allowance and did not discontinue her invalidity pension until 2017.

Foley has been subject to a mandatory 15% deduction from her weekly social welfare payments since the offending came to light. She also paid back a lump sum of €30,000 which she received following the sale of her deceased sister’s house. She has no previous convictions.

Masterson agreed with Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, defending, that her client did not use the money for “drink and drugs and fast cars”. She agreed that Foley displayed no trappings of wealth and was unlikely to come to garda attention again.

Lawlor said her client used the money to pay for “bus fares, food, light, heat, day-to-day living”. She said Foley was a woman of advanced years who had spent her entire life caring for others.

She said her client had a further lump sum of €25,000 available to repay the debt, which represented the remainder of her inheritance from the sale of her sister’s house. She said that would mean Foley was unable to pay for her deceased son’s headstone.

About the author:

Brian Hoban

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