Identities of dead babies stolen by fraud gang
Published 06/03/2010 | 05:00
A Nigerian gang which stole the identities of dead babies and then plundered bank accounts set up in their name was jailed yesterday.
The gang of three, two men and a woman, stole 44 separate identities over 18 months to set up 100 bogus bank accounts.
They then went on to plunder £22,500 (€25,000) from the accounts, largely in the form of generous overdrafts attached to them.
Ringleader John O'Jomo (25) of Avoca Court, Cheapside, Birmingham, England, was jailed for four years at Swansea Crown Court yesterday.
Michael Olusanya (23) of the same address, was jailed for three years for the part he played in the complex fraud.
His partner Hamda Khahin (22) of City Lofts, Crwys Road, Cardiff, south Wales, was jailed for two years.
All three had previously admitted a single joint charge of conspiracy to commit fraud.
The trio operated in England and throughout south Wales, ordering birth certificates online of people who had died years before.
Jim Davis, prosecuting, explained that the gang targeted those who would have been the same age as themselves had they not died.
Among their victims was John Dempsey Hamilton, a two-year-old from Neath, south Wales, who died 16 years ago.
Gaynor Davies (43), his mother, sobbed silently as she listened to the facts of the case in court yesterday.
Later she spoke of the "terrible heart-rending misery" she had suffered as a result of the case.
The court heard the trio were caught after Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) staff in Swansea grew suspicious of multiple driving licence applications from the same addresses.
The gang used birth certificates they managed to get from the internet to apply for licences then used as proof of identity to open bank accounts.
Staff at DVLA headquarters contacted South Wales police's economic crime unit in February 2009 with their suspicions.
The unit's investigation culminated in all three, who were in the UK studying, being arrested in October of that year.
A computer seized at one address by the police revealed the gang had been looking at genealogy sites in preparation for ID theft.
Judge Keith Thomas, passing sentence, told them: "I have to regard this as a large-scale fraud. He said it amounted to the "deliberate targeting of a large number of vulnerable people".
He added: "The use of identities of young deceased people is a particularly despicable form of fraud."
He said he had read a number of victim impact statements which all spoke of the way in which their suffering had been brought back to them.
Afterwards, a still emotional Mrs Davies said: "It is a relief that it is all over now.
"This has brought everything back again. It is as if it were day one and I feel as if I am grieving all over again.
"My son was very precious. To them they have just stolen bits of paper, to me it is like stealing my son's memory."