An Irish emigrant has been jailed for orchestrating a massive social welfare fraud across the border counties – while living it up in Thailand.
Paul Murray swindled the Irish taxpayer out of half a million dollars using nine different names in an elaborate international hoax.
The 63-year-old emigrated to Thailand in the 1970s but returned home every three months to collect his fraudulent social welfare payments.
Now of no-fixed abode, Murray’s sting was described as ‘audacious’ and ‘breathtaking’ by Judge Anthony Kennedy as he jailed Murray at Mullingar Circuit Court.
The judge sentenced Murray to six months in jail after the biggest social welfare fraud recorded in the state in the last 30 years.
The court heard that Murray continued to make the claims even when he was warned the authorities were onto him.
The Judge imposed a six-month sentence for each of 25 sample theft charges before the court and a concurrent sentence of three years for possession of a false passport.
“This man has shamelessly cheated the system with dizzying execution and control, never making a mistake in a planned, premeditated campaign,” said Judge Kennedy.
Just $15,000 remains in Murray’s seven bank accounts after his bonanza payments and a $50,000 inheritance.
Murray, who emigrated in 1974 and hasn’t lived in Ireland for 37 years, returned to Dublin every three months to claim jobseeker’s allowance.
He was also found guilty of fraudulently claiming disability and supplementary welfare allowances in a number of border and midland counties.
Murray was only caught when his brother Patrick in Australia innocently applied for a passport which Paul had already taken out in his name.
He was eventually apprehended in Cavan last October when a policeman was waiting for him as he went to sign on for jobseeker’s allowance.
Previously, Murray served time in Britain in 1994 for similar offences there to the total of £30,000.
Murray admitted to the court that he had shamed his family and regretted that. “I didn’t believe I would be caught,” he said.