Nigerian refugee in Cork discussed laundering of €1 million during PUP fraud 

Two men have been remanded in custody for taking part in a conspiracy to launder money obtained by making fraudulent PUP payments during the Covid pandemic where they got away with over €180,000.

Oluwagbewikeke Lewis and Bashiru Aderibigbe, both with addresses in Cork, are both migrants from Nigeria and Gardaí said that a recording of a phone call found Mr Lewis speaking to a Nigerian criminal organisation, known as The Chairman, where they discussed the laundering of €1 million.

Gardai discovered that the two men had been involved in a scam which involved hacking information of HSE and Tusla staff, who the criminal gang targeted on the assumption that they would not seek to claim the PUP payment during the pandemic.

Emails were sent to these targets, claiming to be from the authorities regarding jury notices, asking recipients to confirm their name, date of birth, PPS number and mother’s maiden name because they had been called for jury service

The gang then harvested enough information to set up 57 bank accounts to receive weekly PUP payments under false claims. Over €180,000 was received in this way between April and December 2020.

Some €32,000 was frozen during the Garda investigation but almost €150,000 has not been found or recovered.

The court heard that the two men offered to pay €11,000 in compensation.

Father of five Bashiru Aderibigbe, who works as a taxi driver, brought €6,000 compensation to court. He was granted asylum in 2005, coming to Ireland from Nigeria, his barrister said

Oluwagbewikeke Lewis said could raise €5,000 from family and friends for compensation. He came to Ireland from Nigeria  five years ago and has a four-year-old child here, while he was also supporting a nine-year-old-child back in Nigeria, the court heard.

Sentencing was adjourned until later in November.

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