Gardaí seek man over identity theft

 

Gardaí are today seeking a man who stole a prisoner’s identity in an attempt to bring his family into Ireland.

The man - known only to authorities as Mr M - took the State to court after suspicious officials rejected visa applications for his wife and six children.

But a further investigation then found he was not who he claimed to be in a case described by the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern as a brazen bid to hoodwink Irish authorities.

The Pakistani man, who used the name Musa Abdul Aziz, used a British passport to assure the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service he moved here from the United Kingdom.

Visa applications lodged in the Irish Honorary Consulate in Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi by his family stated they wanted to join him in the south west of Ireland. Under EU law, an EU citizen can bring their family with them to any member state.

But visa officers in Dublin noticed two of the children looked older than they claimed to be and when they sought verification from schools, they were found to be fake.

All the visa applications were rejected, but Mr M instructed his solicitors to take the State to the High Court over the refusal. It was only then, after inquiries to Britain, that officials learned the man was using the identity of a UK prisoner to pass himself off as an EU citizen. It is believed he may have bought the British passport on the black market.

Despite this, the case went ahead at the High Court last week, where it was promptly thrown out with a warning to solicitors to make sure they known the identity of their clients in future.

In the meantime, the Garda is trying to track down the man who is facing criminal proceedings for fraud and using a false passport.

Mr Ahern insisted the State would not tolerate people trying to “hoodwink” the immigration and naturalisation services.

“This was effectively an attempted fraud on the State and, thanks to the great work of the immigration officials and gardai, it was unearthed and the judicial proceedings were thrown out,” he said.

He stressed there are genuine families who have a legal entitlement to secure visas but warned those forging documents and adopting false identities would be found out.

“What made this application particularly brazen was that even after immigration authorities had discovered his false identity he still pursued judicial proceedings in the High Court,” he said.