An East London immigration gang responsible for fraudulently claiming over £4 million in state benefits has been jailed for a total of 19 years.
A major investigation by the UK Border Agency’s criminal and financial investigation team broke up the scam and arrested 9 people during a series of raids across east London in September 2011.
The investigation, involving a number of agencies including HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), revealed that the scam had been operating for 19 years.
Fraud mastermind Ruth Nabuguzi, 49, of Church Road in Newham, used a number of fake identifies to fraudulently claim millions in benefit payments. The stolen money funded a fabulous lifestyle, helping her to build a complex consisting of luxury apartments, shops, restaurants and a hotel in her native Kampala, Uganda.
Nabuguzi created false identities for people she claimed were her children or dependents in order to help them illegally to enter the UK from Uganda and claim benefits.
During the trial it was revealed that Nabuguzi went under the names of Tessie Busulwa, Jane Namusisi and Pauline Zalwango, and made multiple claims for asylum and benefits for herself and others as part of an elaborate scam. She was aided by fellow criminals Dennis Kyeyune, Jordan Sebutemba, Lamulah Sekiziyuvu and Albert Kaidi.
Police and border officers who raided Kyeyune’s home address in Mitcham Road, East Ham, discovered multiple ‘identity packs’ in a plastic bag which had been hidden on top of a garden shed.
The goody bag contained passports in five different identities of Nabuguzi bearing her photograph, Home Office residency permits and various benefits application forms. Finger print analysis showed Kyeyune had handled the plastic bag. Benefits claimed included housing, disability and unemployment benefits, totalling around £1.6 million.
Ruth Nabuguzi used multiple identities to illegally claim a further £2.3 million worth of prescription drugs from the NHS. She was ‘eligible’ for free prescriptions as she was claiming disability living allowance.
Nabuguzi pleaded guilty to various immigration and fraud offences at a previous hearing in March 2012 and was sentenced to six years in prison at Croydon crown court.
Co-conspirators and defendants Eddie Semanda and Lina Katongola, arrested at a later date, also pleaded guilty to a number of charges. Katongola was sentenced to 12 months in prison and Semanda got a four month suspended sentence.
Yvette Syapjeu (also known as Mathy Matumba) was arrested as part of the investigation and sentenced to 4 years in prison after pleading guilty to various charges.
A further female gang member, Betty Tatiana Tibakawa, also admitted charges and will be sentenced at a future date.
Kyeyune and Kaidi were both sentenced to two and a half years, while Sekiziyuvu was jailed for 3 years. Sebutemba was given a 1 year suspended sentence. A jury had found them guilty of various immigration and fraud offences on 25 October following a 6 week trial at Croydon crown court.
Alan Sentongo, 23, who resided at Kyeyune’s address, was cleared by the jury of one charge of possession of articles for use in fraud, contrary to section 6(1) of the Fraud Act 2006 and one charge of conspiracy to defraud, contrary to Common Law.
Passing the sentences, the Judge commended the UK Border Agency’s criminal and financial investigation team that led this successful investigation.
Tony Erne, from the UK Border Agency, said: “This was a major criminal operation dating back several years. Ruth Nabuguzi and her co-conspirators thought they could get away with it but our officers, working closely with other agencies, smashed their web of deceit.
“These sentences show that abuse of our immigration system for profit will not be tolerated. The message is clear to those thinking of doing the same: we will rigorously investigate people who seek to abuse the hospitality of the UK and commit crime.”
Foreign criminals are normally automatically deported at the endof their sentence, however, many manage to remain in the UK on ‘Article 8’ appeals on human rights grounds.
In a recent case a convicted Romanian gypsy campaigner, who was jailed for masterminding a £10million benefits fraud racket, was allowed to stay in Britain following a successful human rights appeal before a senior immigration judge.
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