Son claiming dead parents pension for 33 years caught on dads 100th birthday

A conman who had fraudulently claimed his dead parents pensions for 33 years was finally caught out when his father became eligible for a cheque for reaching the age of 100, a court has heard.

Investigating gardai indicated that Donal (Don) O'Callaghan conducted the largest and longest-running known case of welfare fraud in the state of Cork from 1987 to 2020.

In the name of his dead parents Donald and Eileen, the 58-year-old claimed a staggering total of almost £500,000.

Remarkably, the court heard that the fraudulent activity was allegedly a family trait as the prosecution revealed that Donald O'Callaghan Senior, the father of the defendant, had claimed a pension for his dead wife from 1979 until his own death in 1987.

Upon the death of Donald O'Callaghan Senior in 1987, dad-of-one Don started claiming the State pension for both his father and mother reports the Irish Mirror.

Garda Nagle said that the offences finally emerged in July 2020 when a social welfare inspector at Hanover Street, Cork received notification of a pensioner in Cork, Donald O'Callaghan, who was due to reach 100.

He told the court: "This would result in the issuing of a congratulatory letter from the president as well as a cheque for €2,540.

"The social welfare inspector's role was to verify the pensioners details and to confirm their acceptance of the centenarian bounty, prior to it being issued.

"The pensioner, Donald O'Callaghan, was listed as residing at 4 Churchfield Green, Churchfield, Cork with his wife Eileen O' Callaghan and their son Don O'Callaghan."

But when the inspector tried to verify his father's age they encountered a number of problems.

After contacting the public health nurse, who had no record of Donald O' Callaghan, they were unable to make contact with anybody else who could verify the information.

Garda Nagle then started to carry out surveillance of the O'Callaghan home.

He told the court: "I eventually began to physically check various cemeteries over a number of weeks. In September 2020 I located the grave of Eileen O' Callaghan at Tory Top Road cemetery and the following week I located the grave of Donald O' Callaghan in Douglas cemetery.

"Donald O'Callaghan died 34 years ago in November 1987, aged 68 and his wife Eileen O'Callaghan died 43 years ago in March 1979, aged 57."

To stay up to date with all the latest news, make sure you sign up to one of our newsletters here.

Garda Nagle obtained CCTV from three collections of the pension at GPO, Cork in August and September 2020 and they were all collected by a man whom he believed to be Don O'Callaghan.

On October 9, 2020 he arrested Don O'Callaghan, who had just collected a fortnightly pension payment of €961.60 (£806) in cash.

In the 33 years during which the fraud was committed, there were almost 1,700 separate collections of pension payments made by Don O' Callaghan and a total of €527,000 (£442,000) was collected.

O'Callaghan pleaded guilty to 73 sample counts of social welfare fraud dating back over three decades with 68 counts relating to theft whilst five refer to false documentation in support of the fraudulent claims.

All of the theft offences occurred at Cork GPO on Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork with the forgery offences taking place at the office of the Department of Social Protection on Hanover Street in Cork.

Defence barrister, Ray Boland SC, claimed that his client had a chronic gambling addiction for which he was seeking treatment. He pleaded for leniency in the case given the guilty plea, his client's co operation with gardai and his lack of previous convictions.

Judge Helen Boyle adjourned the case to consider her position on sentencing.

Source: Read Full Article