Naas Circuit Court
A case involving a Celbridge couple, who were convicted of fraud involving over €400,000 at Naas Circuit Court today, was described as “one of the largest if not the largest” in the State so far by gardaí.
An IT project manager, who fraudulently got a €240,000 mortgage from EBS Building society using a false identity was jailed for three years.
His wife, who fraudulently claimed rent allowance and job seekers allowance, was given a number of three year suspended sentences on the separate charges.
The court heard that Kenneth Gboboh (36), 49 Willow Avenue, Primrose Gate, Celbridge, Co Kildare, got a mortgage from the EBS for €240,000 on November 26 2008
He used the name of another person, aided by documents including a driving licence identification, to take out the mortgage.
His wife, Franca, applied for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and for rent allowance under their real names, with the rent allowance being paid to the landlord under the name of the person Mr Gboboh used to apply for the mortgage.
She claimed a total of €132,872 in JSA fraudulently and €48,899.20 in rent allowance.
The fraud involved over €400,000 in total.
Garda Thomas Burke said the rent allowance helped pay the mortgage for the couple’s house. He said the investigation took a year and the case was “one of the largest if not the largest” in the State so far.
The couple, who are from Nigeria, have four children, aged 7 to 13, and one of them is autistic.
The Court was told that Mr Gboboh, who came to Ireland in 2006, was “directing and controlling” the fraud and that his wife, had a low intelligence and was “easily led.”
They had been here since that except for a holiday in Nigeria and a trip to Disneyland.
It also heard that he had worked as an IT project coordinator with Siemens for two years.
Neither of the defendants had any previous convictions.
The Court was told that Mr Gboboh was currently working and earning around €45,000 a year.
There was also a payment plan to address €40,000 mortgage arrears, involving €500 per month and a payment of €200 to the Department of Social Welfare.
Mr Gboboh did volunteer work for Kildare Civil Defence and there was a letter from his children’s school saying he was very attentive to their education.
Ms Gboboh’s defence team said she was “extremely distressed” by the experience and asked the judge to differentiate her from her husband.
Her mother had abandoned her in Nigeria and she was cared for by her father. She left school in third class. She came to Ireland in 2004 as an asylum seeker.
A report by the Probation Services said both defendants, who apologised for the crime, had a low risk of offending.
A report from a clinical psychologist, Michael Dempsey, said Franca was “vulnerable and overwhelmed” by the experience.
Judge Michael O’Shea said it was “an elaborate fraud” and Mr Gboboh had a duty to be honest in making the application to the EBS. He had abused their trust in him and deceived them.
He had been “calculating and cunning.”
He also noted from a report handed into the Court that “some friends may have advised him” when he came to Ireland before he undertook the fraud.
The judge said there were mitigating features including an early guilty plea and co-operation, but there were substantial aggravating features to the fraud.
He accepted Ms Gboboh had been directed somewhat but she had carried the frauds.
He suspended Mr Gboboh’s three year sentence by one year, subject to a bond.
Noting the case by Ms Gboboh’s defence team, he said the four children could not be used as a shield.
He gave her three years on each of separate charges and suspended them all.