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Son Claiming Dead Parents' Pension For 33 Years Was Rumbled When Dad 'Turned 100'

Son Claiming Dead Parents' Pension For 33 Years Was Rumbled When Dad 'Turned 100'

Donal O’Callaghan had claimed over £440,000 by pretending his parents were still alive

A man who claimed his dead parents' pensions for over three decades was caught out when his dad 'turned 100'.

Donal O’Callaghan spent the last 33 years pretending his parents were alive, which enabled him to claim £441,973 ($599,779).

The 58-year-old was caught out when his dad became eligible for the centenary bounty cheque after the social welfare inspector tried to verify his details.

Michael Mac Sweeney

O’Callaghan had been claiming from his parents, Donald and Eileen, between 1987 and 2020. Before his dad passed away, he had been claiming a pension for his wife despite her dying in 1979.

In 2020, the social welfare inspector informed Garda Michael Nagle who contacted the public health nurse, home help serves, local GPs and local hospitals.

Unable to locate the pair, or their death certificates, Garda Nagle started to carry out surveillance of the home.

Cork GPO.
Google Maps

Garda Nagle told Cork Circuit Criminal 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."

CCTV was also seen of pensions being collected which were all picked up by a man believed to be O’Callaghan.

On 9 October 2020, he was arrested with a fortnightly pension payment of €961.60 (£805/$1,090) in cash.

The defendant admitted what he had been doing for 33 years and €9,800 (£8,220/$11,150) in cash, suspected to be proceeds from the pension payments, was found in his home.

Michael Mac Sweeney

This is said to have been the largest and longest running known case of welfare fraud in State history.

Over the years there were almost 1,700 separate collections of this pension payment and O'Callaghan pleaded guilty to 73 sample counts of social welfare fraud - 68 relate to theft whilst five refer to false documentation in support of the fraudulent claims.

Defending O'Callaghan, Ray Boland, SC, claimed that his client had a gambling addiction for which he was seeking treatment.

O'Callaghan will be sentenced later today (16 February).

Featured Image Credit: Michael Mac Sweeney

Topics: News, Ireland