A 66-YEAR-OLD woman and a teenager have appeared before a special sitting of Dungannon Magistrates Court in relation to an alleged long-running cross-border identity fraud totalling almost £240,000.
Annie Maughan of Harmony Heights, Cavan and the youth (17) who cannot be identified due to her age are charged with fraud by false representation and going equipped for theft.
The charges against Maughan are alleged to have occurred between January 2014 until her arrest on 1 April.
In respect of the youth, the allegations relate only to 1 April.
A detective constable told the court she could connect both accused to their respect charges.
She explained concerns were raised by the Department for Communities around potential benefit fraud being paid to persons resident in the Republic of Ireland.
It was established these were being collected from various Post Offices in Fermanagh every fortnight involving three different accounts.
Last Thursday, police were advised payments were due to be collected and Maughan was driving from Cavan towards Derrylin.
She and the youth were detected in a Post Office and having carried out a transaction, were holding a large amount of cash.
They were spoken to by police and Post Office account cards were recovered along with £895 in cash, after which they were arrested.
The detective said the case is grounded on identity fraud, with Maughan picking up benefits paid into three Post Office card accounts from 2014 to the present, totalling £239,165.
In respect of each, £80,550 was claimed in one identity; £68,358 from a second and £90,260 from a third.
All three identities had the same mobile phone number on the applications.
An Electoral Identity Card was recovered from Maughan bearing her photograph but in the name of Bridget Mongan.
Evidence has shown this was created in 2016 and was used to register with a GP Surgery in Fermanagh. From medical evidence provided, was used to apply for disability payments in the false name, which Maughan would collect.
During interview she admitted creating the identity card and withdrawing the money, which she claimed was spent on her grandchildren.
A Post Office card was recovered from the youth and it is the first time police were aware of her involvement in the case.
She stated Maughan had handed her the card and asked her to check the balance on the account, to withdraw the full amount.
Bail was opposed for both defendants due to risk of absconding with the detective pointing to the length of time the fraud was ongoing and the amount involved totalling over a quarter of a million pounds.
District Judge Steven Keown said he had no difficulty in agreeing to release the youth on bail to reside at an address in Lisbellaw.
In respect of Maughan however Judge Keown felt there was a risk of absconding making her current address unsuitable.
Maughan is also to be electronically tagged and abide by a curfew from 7pm to 7am.
The case was adjourned to Enniskillen Magistrates Court on 26 April
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