'This is outrageous abuse of hospitality': Judge's anger as he jails family of Ugandan fraudsters who stole £4million in benefits to buy luxury homes and restaurants in Africa
Jailed: Ruth Nabuguzi was the ringleader of a 'family firm' that carried out a £4million benefits scam
- Ruth Nabuguzi got leave to remain by using IDs of fake children and even stole her own two children's identities
- Ringleader of 'family firm' claimed more than £2million in HIV and AIDS drugs
- Drugs were then sent back to the Uganda and sold for profits
- Members of nine strong gang were jailed for a total of 19 years today
- Scale of fraud so wide that it is feared leader's identity may never be known
A judge accused a family of African fraudsters of an ‘outrageous abuse of the hospitality’ shown to them by Britain as they were jailed yesterday for stealing £4million from taxpayers.
The 20-year scam included one of the fraud ringleaders creating fake identities for up to 100 children to milk the benefits system.
Ruth Nagubuzi also claimed to have HIV and Aids in order to receive costly drugs which she then sent back to Uganda for huge profits.
It was estimated that supplying the medicines to the 49-year-old, as well as four other made-up ‘sufferers’, cost the taxpayer more than £2million.
A further £154,000 went on education for members of the ‘family’, with £37,500 for a single higher education course.
Fraud relating to accommodation costs and sub-letting of flats by Nagubuzi cost £650,000, and the family’s benefits including child allowances, disability benefits, and council tax and tax credits totalled £900,000.
The gang’s gains were spent on a complex consisting of luxury apartments, shops, restaurants and a hotel in Nagubuzi’s home city of Kampala, the Ugandan capital. Plans for building new properties were found when police raided the gang’s homes across East London.
The Daily Mail told last week how in a campaign of deceit lasting more than two decades their ‘family business’ saw them ‘conspire together to create, use and exploit’ false identities to carry out the staggering fraud.
Yesterday eight of the group were sentenced to a total of 19 years by Judge Nicholas Ainley at Croydon Crown Court in South London.
He told Nagubuzi: ‘This was a fraud on a huge scale and it is an outrageous abuse of the hospitality you were offered by this country when you came here in trouble.
Nabaguzi is believed to have regularly travelled back to Uganda and bought at least three properties in and around the capital Kampala, one of them pictured
The luxury flats in Kampala, Uganda, that were built using the proceeds of the scam
Another luxury house in Uganda that was paid for using money that was illegally obtained in Britain
The use of so many names to perpetuate the fraud led one investigator to remark: ‘The true figure of what these people stole from us may never be known. It could be in excess of £6million after they launched a systematic assault on our welfare system.’
Dennis Kyeyune, 29, and Lamulah Sekiziyuvu, 36, were both given sentences totalling 30 months, while Jordan Sebutemba, 26 – a mother of children aged five and 11 months – was spared jail and given a one-year sentence suspended for two years.
The judge told both Kyeyune and Sebutemba: ‘It must have been dispiriting for the jury to listen to both of you in the witness box just lying and lying consistently. Kyeyune held much of the paperwork and Sebutemba, you were a trusted confederate.’
Nabuguzi, 49, from Manor Park, east London and her family, fooled immigration officials and obtained leave to remain in the UK under a number of different identities
Albert Kaidi, 27, was also given a 30-month sentence and told he had ‘lied’ about being from Rwanda when he was a native of Uganda.
Yesterday those found guilty were joined in the dock by four other gang members who had earlier pleaded guilty to numerous offences.
The other guilty fraudsters included Nagubuzi, who managed to claim £2,280,000 in HIV/Aids medication for herself and in four other identities, which investigators believe she has sold for vast profit in Uganda.
Nagubuzi was given a total of six years imprisonment and told that an immigration tribunal would look at her right to remain in the UK.
Dennis Kyeyune, left, believed to be the ringleader's son and Albert Kaidi one of the nine members of the family
Yvette Syapjeu (also known as Mathy Matumba), left, and Lamulah Sekiziyuvu, pictured right
Lina Katongola, 29, was jailed for one year
Cameroonian-born fraudster Mathy Matumba, 50 – whose real name is believed to be Yvette Syapjeu – was given a four-year jail term for using a number of false identities to steal more than £350,000 in benefits payments since coming to Britain in 1998.
Nurse Lina Katongola, 29, was given a one-year prison term and Eddie Semanda, 31, was given a four-month prison term, suspended for one year, over a false naturalisation application.
Paul Raudnitz, prosecuting, said: ‘The tentacles of this fraud went far and wide for many, many years. Each defendant at different times joined the conspiracy.’ He said ‘key player’ Nagubuzi ‘employed multiple identities ... so many that the true number of identities may never ever be known’.
Nagubuzi’s claims for Aids drugs netted her millions and she even sub-let flats in East London which saw her pocket a further £650,000. She received almost £500,000 in housing benefit alone from Newham Council.
Nagubuzi came to the UK in 1991 and claimed asylum for herself and four children she had left in Uganda. Three years later she used the name Jane Namusisi to apply for asylum again – along with two more children. In 1999, using the name Pauline Zalwango, she applied once more, this time with three children.
She is believed to have regularly travelled to Uganda and bought at least three properties around Kampala.
When police searched the East London home of Dennis Kyeyune – thought to be Nagubuzi’s son or nephew – they found a black holdall containing a vast array of fake documents, described as a ‘kitbag for the commission of identity fraud’.
The judge said that there would be a confiscation hearing at a later date under Proceeds of Crime legislation.
Church Road, Manor Park in east London where the ringleader lived as she scammed benefit money
Rachel Bennett from the UK Border Agency said: ‘These convictions show we will leave no stone unturned in our effort to bring to justice those who seek to abuse our immigration system.’