East Ham benefit fraudster jailed

An East Ham woman has been jailed for 14 months after working illegally at a primary school and dishonestly claiming �6,000 in benefits.

Elizabeth Addo, 39, of Roman Road, claimed she was a Dutch national when she was actually from Ghana.

After providing a false Dutch passport and national insurance number card Addo became a midday supervisor at a Newham secondary school. She later became a cleaner there.

During a national fraud crackdown earlier this year Newham Council officers discovered the national insurance number actually belonged to a 14-year-old boy.

Officers confirmed Addo did not have the right to work in the UK and was reporting to an Immigration Centre on a monthly basis after being served papers as an overstayer.

She also falsely claimed �6,000 in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

At Stratford Magistrates’ Court in June, Addo admitted four offences: possession of articles contrary to The Fraud Act; using a False Instrument contrary to the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act; Obtaining a Pecuniary Advantage contrary to the Theft Act 1968 and Dishonest Representation to Obtain Benefit contrary to the Social Security Administration Act.

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In August at Inner London Crown Court, she was sentenced to a total of 14 months’ imprisonment. The judge also recommended she be deported once she had finished her sentence.

Judge Chapple told Addo she had ‘lived a lie since 2003 when her visa expired’. Her case was so serious, he had to jail her.

In mitigation, the court heard Addo had been abandoned by her husband.

Newham Counci’s Cllr Unmesh Desai, Executive Member for Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour, said: “Elizabeth Addo lied and lied to get the job. She was employed in good faith and abused that trust.

“Newham Council has a zero-tolerance approach to fraud. It cannot - and will not - be tolerated. We have rigorous systems in place to detect this sort of practice.”