24th February, 2011
A Nigerian immigrant stole the identities of 350 people to claim Â£1.3 million in bogus tax credits in the largest benefit scam of its kind.
Olaide Taiwo, 35, hijacked the identities while working as a security guard for a number of large national companies.
He then used the names to claim tens of thousands in working tax credits.
This week he was jailed for eight and a half years â€“ the highest ever sentence for tax credit fraud.
Taiwo is understood to have arrived illegally in Britain in 2003 with his wife. Although three applications to stay in the UK failed, in 2005, he was granted discretionary leave to remain.
It was during this period that his scam began. The father-of-two submitted more than 300 fraudulent tax credit claims between June 2004 and July 2008 worth over Â£1 million.
When he was arrested, investigators found an â€˜identity thievesâ€™ paradiseâ€™ with stacks of fake passports and driving licences and Â£70,000 in cash lying around his council flat in Camberwell, South-East London.
The property was littered with paperwork detailing the names, addresses and national insurance numbers of hundreds of people which he had taken from employee payroll records at dozens of companies around London where he had worked as a security guard.
They also found templates for making false passports, birth certificates, NHS cards and driving licences.
Taiwo used the identities to open hundreds of bank accounts for the benefits to be paid into, but HM Revenue & Customs became suspicious about the multiple tax credit applications and arrested him in July 2008.
They believe he was the ringleader of an organised criminal network which included his sister-in-law who worked for a job centre.
But the rest of the gang are thought to have fled to Nigeria. Taiwo also tried to leave the country but he was arrested again on August 6 last year.
He was found guilty at Inner London Crown Court of fraudulently obtaining payments of tax credits, by using the names and addresses of individuals without their consent and acquiring criminal property.
Sentencing him, Judge Simon Davis ordered that he be deported at the end of his eight and a half year sentence.
He said: â€œThis is a fraud on a substantial scale.
â€œYou lied and sought to manipulate with ease and confidence and with an arrogance that was astonishing.
â€œYou were intimately connected with every aspect of the fraud, stealing real details of real people to commit identity fraud on the large scale.â€
Another member of the gang, Taiwoâ€™s sister-in-law Olajumoke Ademuyiwa, 42, a Jobcentre Plus employee, was also found guilty of fraudulently obtaining tax credit payments in an earlier hearing.
Ademuyiwa opened the bank accounts into which the benefits were paid, but she is not thought to have used her role as a job centre worker to make false claims. Her husband, Oluyemi Amidu Taiwo â€“ Taiwoâ€™s brother â€“ is thought to have fled the country. She is due to be sentenced in April.
Richard Young, senior investigating officer for HMRC said: â€˜This pair blatantly hijacked the identities of over 350 innocent people and stole from British taxpayers by submitting over 300 fraudulent tax credit claims between June 2004 and July 2008.
â€œThey deliberately attacked and abused a system designed to provide financial help to the most vulnerable people in our society.â€