Two members of an organised crime group, who attempted to claim £10.2million in tax credits using stolen identities of public sector employees, have been jailed for eight years and nine months after a complex criminal investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Two women received suspended prison sentences.
Adedamola Oyebode, 30, of Lewisham, worked as an events and marketing assistant for the Civil Service Sports Council (CSSC). In April and June 2009, she accessed the CSSC’s password protected membership system and stole personal details of 10,300 members.
Oyebode then passed the data to her brother-in-law, Oluwatobi Odeyemi, known as Emmanuel, 34, of Gravesend, Kent. He was a key facilitator in the criminal operation, managing the stolen data used to make false tax credits claims.
Emmanuel Odeyemi’s friend, Kayode Sanni, 38, of Leeds, ensured the stolen data was used to apply for tax credits. He recruited and managed a friend, Chantelle Gumbs, 34, also of Leeds. Her job was to request the tax credits application packs from HMRC used to make fraudulent tax credits claims. The gang completed the forms, adding details of bank accounts that had been set up to commit the fraud, and returned them to HMRC.
Investigators believe the fraudsters conspired with two others who are on-the-run, and are appealing for information on their whereabouts. Emmanuel Odeyemi’s brother Oluwagbenga Odeyemi, known as Stephen, 39, and Stephen’s wife Oluwatumininu Banjo, 40, also known as Tumi, are thought to be in Nigeria. The couple used to live in Dagenham, Greater London.
Simon York, Director of HMRC'sFraud Investigation Service, said:
“These criminals launched an organised attack on the tax credits system, a system designed to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“Thanks to the experience of HMRC's officers, the effectiveness of our counter-fraud checks, and an extremely complex criminal investigation, the fraud was stopped and HMRC prevented £8 million of false claims being paid to the criminals.
“We will continue to tackle those committing tax credits fraud and ask anyone who has information about the two Nigerian citizens who may be connected with this fraud to call the HMRC Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
The scam was uncovered in late 2009 by HMRC’s identity fraud and risk teams concerned about the volume of new claims for civil servants, predominately for working tax credits. Their initial enquiries also highlighted potential sources of a data leak. HMRC began a criminal investigation in April 2010 and through detailed forensic analysis, investigators uncovered the fraudsters, pieced together the scam, and identified the extent of theCSSC data loss.
HMRC’s investigators analysed huge amounts of information, including tax credits records, recordings of phone calls to the tax credits helpline, banking data, notebooks, diaries, computer, email, and data storage devices, and mobile phone, text message and telephone records. An expert voice analyst gave evidence during Kayode Sanni’s trial.
Of the 10,300 identities stolen, 2504 were used to make fraudulent tax credits claims resulting in £2.4 million being paid out. Further claims were made but not paid. Had the fraud not been uncovered and stopped, it is estimated that at least another £7.8 million would have been paid to the criminals, leading to a total attempted fraud of £10.2million.
Upon sentencing the fraudsters at the Old Bailey, His Honour Judge Dodgson, said:
“It was a serious fraud that you all involved yourselves in”, adding to Sanni who stood trial, “the only remorse is that you got caught.”
His Honour commended the HMRC investigation team for their ‘meticulous work’.
Notes for Editors
- All were charged with conspiracy to be knowingly concerned in fraudulent activity undertaken with a view to obtaining payments of tax credits, contrary to section 35(1) of the Tax Credits Act 2002, and contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
- Adedamola Oluwatoyin OYEBODE, DOB 12/03/87, British, unemployed, of Knapmill Road, Lewisham, London, SE6 at the time of her arrest. She also uses the names ‘Dami’, and ‘Damola’. She worked as an events and marketing assistant for the Civil Service Sports Council in Chadwick Street, London, SW1. In April and July 2009 she stole members’ personal data, which was used to carry out the fraud. She was arrested on 28 June 2012. She pleaded guilty on 20 December 2016 to her role in the conspiracy. Oyebode was sentenced to two years, suspended for two years, at the Central Criminal Court on 6 July 2017. She must complete 160 hours of unpaid community work and is subject to a three month curfew.
- Oluwatobi ODEYEMI, known as Emmanuel, also known as ‘Tobi’ and ‘Odus’, DOB 23/04/83, Nigerian, a car trader of Palmer Avenue, Gravesend, Kent at the time of his arrest. He is brother-in-law of Adedamola Oyebode. Odeyemi was a major facilitator of the fraud and managed the stolen data. He was arrested on 9 October 2012. Odeyemi pleaded guilty on 13 June 2017 to his role in the conspiracy. He was jailed for three and a half years at the Central Criminal Court on 6 July 2017.
- Kayode SANNI, DOB 20/12/78, Nigerian, an IT support worker of Moorland Road, Pudsey, Leeds at the time of his arrest. He is known to have used the names ‘David Cole’, ‘David Thompson’ and ‘Kay Sanni’. He recruited Chantelle Gumbs to the crime, providing her with stolen data to obtain tax credits application packs. He managed Gumbs’ role in the fraud. He was arrested on 20 March 2012. Sanni was found guilty of his role in the conspiracy at the Central Criminal Court on 26 June 2017 and remanded in custody. He was jailed for five years and three months at the same court on 6 July 2017.
- Chantelle Charmaine GUMBS, DOB 28/05/83, British, of Francis Street, Leeds at the time of her arrest. She requested tax credit application forms by telephone from HMRC. She was arrested on 23 February 2011. She pleaded guilty on 14 October 2015 to her role in the conspiracy. Gumbs was sentenced to 15 months, suspended for two years, at the Central Criminal Court on 6 July 2017. She also received a rehabilitation order.
- Two others are on the run and HMRC is appealing for information about their whereabouts. Oluwagbenga Odeyemi, DOB 13/09/77, known as Stephen and Gbenga; and his wife Oluwatumininu Banjo, DOB 09/06/77, known as Tumi and Charmaine Davis, are thought to be in Nigeria. The couple used to live in Dagenham, Greater London. Anyone with information about the two Nigerian citizens who may be connected with this fraud, can call the HMRC Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887 or +44 203 080 0871 if calling from outside the UK.
- The case against a fourth woman was dropped.
- The Civil Service Sports Council (CSSC) cooperated fully with HMRC’s investigation. The data stolen related to ten per cent of its membership, which is mainly civil servants but also includes some armed forces and police force personnel, local authority employees, members of parliament, and retired public servants.
- Photos are available on HMRC’s Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
- Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice.
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.
HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.