October 24 2014 Latest news:
Melissa York, Reporter
Friday, November 2, 2012
An immigration scam gang from Newham has been jailed for a total of 19 years for fraudulently claiming over £4 million in benefits.
Ringleader Ruth Nabuguzi, 49, of Church Road, Manor Park used several false identifies to fraudulently claim benefit payments for herself, helping to build a complex consisting of luxury apartments, shops, restaurants and a hotel in her home city of Kampala, Uganda.
She also created false identities for people she claimed were her children or dependents that enabled them to enter the country illegally from Uganda and claim benefits illegally.
The court heard that Nabuguzi – who also went under the names of Tessie Busulwa, Jane Namusisi and Pauline Zalwango - made multiple claims for asylum and benefits for herself and others as part of an elaborate scam.
She was assisted by Dennis Kyeyune, Jordan Sebutemba, Lamulah Sekiziyuvu and Albert Kaidi.
Officers who raided Kyeyune’s home address in Mitcham Road, East Ham, discovered numerous ‘identity packs’ in a holdall and plastic bag which had been placed on top of a garden shed.
This contained passports in five different identities of Nabuguzi bearing her photograph, Home Office residency permits and various benefits application forms.
The benefits claimed were mainly housing, disability and unemployment benefits, totalling around £1.6 million.
Ruth Nabuguzi also used her alternative identities to fraudulently claim a further £2.3 million worth of prescription drugs from the NHS.
Nabuguzi pleaded guilty to various immigration and fraud offences at a previous hearing in March and was sentenced to six years in prison at Croydon Crown Court yesterday.
Co-conspirators Eddie Semanda and Lina Katongola, who were arrested at a later date, also pleaded guilty to various charges. Katongola was sentenced to one year in prison while Semanda got a four month suspended sentence.
Yvette Syapjeu (also known as Mathy Matumba) was also arrested as part of the investigation and sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to various charges.
Another woman, Betty Tatiana Tibakawa, who also admitted charges, will be sentenced at a future date.
Kyeyune and Kaidi were sentenced to two and a half years, while Sekiziyuvu was jailed for three years. Sebutemba was given a one year suspended sentence after a jury found them guilty of various immigration and fraud offences on 25 October following a six-week trial at Croydon Crown Court.
Alan Sentongo, 23, who lived 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.
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.”
The UK Border Agency and other agencies will now seek to recover the proceeds of this conspiracy through Proceeds of Crime Act legislation.