Monday, 1 October 2012
Independence day present. Naija couple gets 9yrs in UK prison
While pronouncing the sentence, Judge William Kennedy described the crime as “the largest single joint conspiracy of its kind.” He said “this was no less than a criminal industry, with simple and eye watering criminality designed to maximise the loss to the public. It was a difficult investigation carried out with skill and tenacity”.
The judge also ruled that the two of them should be deported after the expiration of their prison terms.
we gathered that Thomas used 1,400 different identities, all stolen, to complete 2, 495 handwritten tax and benefit claims forms. One of the things that however raised suspicion was that he used the same address for all the claims.
The court was told that the couple carried out the scam between January 3, 2007 and October 7, 2011, and they tried to claim £827,000 from HMRC out of which they secured £43,000.
They also claimed £3 million from the Department of Work and Pensions and received £44,000.
Investigators spent a long time watching Thomas and the court was told that when he was arrested outside a cash point at Upper Clacton Post Office in Hackney, east London in October 7, 2011, seventeen Post Office accounts were found in his possession.
Abiola was caught a few hours later with £ 4,125 in her handbag. She claimed it was child benefit payment.
Thomas who incidentally is an illegal immigrant got a 7-year jail sentence while Abiola, a legal UK resident was given two and a half years.
Investigators found out that the couple spent most of the money on designers’ wears and electronic gadgets, including a 50-inch plasma television.
The court was told that when the scam succeeds, the couple draw from bank accounts or bogus post office accounts, most of which were set up by Thomas. Their trial ran till August while they were sentenced in September.