- Fanta Sesay claimed fraudulently claimed £180,500 in benefits while earning more than £240,000 from her employment
- She was not entitled to the benefits or allowed to work
- Sesay was sentenced to 28 months jail for the nine year scam
- From Sierra Leone, her application for asylum had been turned down but she married a British citizen in 2005 granting her indefinite leave to remain
A benefit cheat asylum seeker from Sierra Leone fraudulently stole more than £180,000 in benefits while holding down two jobs.
In a scam carried out over nine years, Fanta Sesay pocketed £20,800 in income support, £121,000 in housing benefit and £38,700 in child tax credits between 2005 and her arrest in April this year.
Not legally entitled to work, the Sierra Leone national gave a false name, National Insurance number and date of birth in order to work as a nursing assistant at Homerton Hospital and at St Thomas’ Hospital in South London, earning more than £240,000 from her employment.
In total the 41-year-old of Plaistow, London falsely claimed more than £420,000 in what Judge Lindsay Burn said was a ‘very serious fraud’ and sentenced her to 28 months jail.
He said in Inner London Crown Court: ‘Many members of the public would be concerned that a person who was caring for them had got the job under a false identity.’
Rebecca Randall, defending Sesay, said: ‘Potentially, her life in the UK is now over.’
Sesay arrived from Sierra Leone but her application for asylum was turned down. As immigration services were due to deport her she married a British citizen and was granted indefinite leave to remain in August 2005.
Sonal Dashani, prosecuting, said: ‘During the time up to and including August 2005, when her immigration status was pending, she was not entitled to any public funds, i.e. benefits, or to work.
‘This is the warning given to all people entering this country.’
In January 2003, however, she started working at Homerton Hospital under a false name, giving a false National Insurance number and a false date of birth ‘in order that she could not be detected or the authorities would have been aware of the other income.’
While still working at the hospital, in September 2005, she made her first claim for income support on the basis she was a single parent who was not in employment or in receipt of any other funds.
Around the same time, she made a claim for child tax credit claiming she was not working in the UK.
Ms Dashani said: ‘Given the amount of income support she was in receipt of, she would not have been entitled to tax credit.’
The funds continued while she left Homerton and in August 2009 and started working at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, again giving a variation of her name and a different National Insurance number.
Sesay admitted handing her employers false names and National Insurance numbers and pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly making false representations to obtain benefits in respect to council tax and housing benefit.
She also admitted to being knowingly concerned with fraudulent activity, obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and fraud by false representation.
In sentencing her to 28 months jail, Judge Burn said: ‘You obtained that money which is, quite frankly, a huge amount, by running two parallel fraudulent activities.
‘You came here from Sierra Leona and because of your immigration status you were not entitled to work and you knew that was the position.’
Ms Dashani said that the money ‘goes in and it is simply used’ while some of it went to Sierra Leone which cannot be traced.
She said: ‘Her immigration status is under review because there is a question mark over whether that was a genuine claim or not.’
Earlier this month Somali man Karmal Mustafa, 29, dishonestly claimed £38,856.50 of income support, council tax and housing benefit while working over a seven-year period to support two families.
He escaped a jail term after the judge handed him a 24-week suspended sentence, ordered him to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £250 costs.
Gaye Williams, 38, faced court in August after she pretended she was a single mother claiming council housing and tax benefits as well as income support while her husband, Glyn, was earning as much as £1,500 a week and her son was privately educated.
The judge gave them six months to save up to repay a significant part of the loss of more than £11,500 and avoid prison sentences.
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