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Fraud gang stole dead child's ID

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 15:46 UK time, Monday, 1 March 2010

ID fraud is a concern for us all, but one heartless gang stole the identities of children who had died to commit a fraud which netted tens of thousands of pounds before they were brought to justice.

X-Ray spoke to the officers who tracked them down and a mother who is calling for a change in the way deaths are registered after her son's birth certificate was used in the crime.

IDphotos.jpg

Suspects Kolajo John Ojomo, Hamda Khahin and Michael Olusegun Olusanya were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.

 

John Dempsey Hamilton's birth certificate was one of 44 obtained online and used to apply for driving licences with which to open bank accounts and defraud over £20,000.

"I feel I've regressed back to when he died because it's brought everything flooding back," Gaynor Davies from Crynant, near Neath, told BBC Wales' X-Ray programme. "Because of the way baby John was - blind and deaf - he would never have grown up and been able to learn to drive and for them to take a licence in his name...it's hard. As well as being upset, I'm angry."

"There should be some way that if anybody has died they have 'deceased' stamped on their birth certificate so nobody can fraudulently use it."

Three people await sentencing after admitting conspiracy to commit fraud.

The crime came to light in February 2009 when staff at the DVLA headquarters in Swansea realised that multiple applications for driving licences were being made from the same handful of addresses.

Two males and a female were using genuine birth certificates, obtained legally through a government website, but sent photographs of themselves with licence applications.

When South Wales Police's Economic Crime Unit investigated the 18 addresses on the DVLA's files it came across seven Welsh properties the gang used as mail-drop addresses.

After further investigation one of the addresses, at a modern apartment block in Cardiff, stood out in particular.

In October 2009 three suspects - husband and wife Kolajo John Ojomo and Hamda Khahin and Michael Olusegun Olusanya - were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.

"They would know that these children would never have applied for a driving licence," Det Con Tyrone Peach told the programme. "So that document was then used in support of a provisional driving licence.
 
"They would then use that in turn to open up bank accounts on the high street. The student bank accounts would have a £500 or £1,000 overdraft, they would then deplete it and then move on to next identity."

Conspiracy
Ojomo and Khahin were caught on CCTV footage opening one of the fraudulent accounts.

On the 11 January this year Ojomo, Kahin and Olusanya pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud at Swansea Crown Court. The trio will be sentenced later this week.

"It's through the whole of the UK in many addresses in major cities," explained Det Con Peach. "We have 44 children which relate to our inquiry.

"In excess of £20,000 (has been defrauded). A lot of the money was used for lifestyle, expensive watches, clothing and so forth, and some of the money was actually sent through Western Union to places like Nigeria, Pakistan, Uruguay and so forth."

Ms Davies told X-Ray she was devastated to find out that her little boy's birth certificate had been obtained online.

"My son fought so hard for his life and now I feel they've taken that away from him," she said.

 

gaynor_davies.jpg

Gaynor Davies talks of her shock and anger on finding her dead son's ID was used fraudulently. 

'Angry'
"He was two years and four months old when he died. He was born very premature and he had a lot of problems, he was in special care for the first six months, you know. They didn't expect him to live really, when he was born.  

"But he did, he was a fighter and a happy baby - smiling and laughing all the time. He'd be 18 now."

"They're waiting for sentencing now, I'll be glad when it comes, and will be over with and I can carry on with my life as best I can and try and put it behind me.

"I do feel angry towards them because they obviously don't understand the consequences that this has on families, to them it's a piece of paper, but they've stolen my son.

"I hope they get a prison sentence."

David Evans, DVLA's corporate affairs director, said: "These arrests send a clear message to anyone out there who may be tempted to, or is thinking about making a fraudulent driving licence application.
 
"DVLA has robust processes in place to identify and prevent criminal abuse of the driving licence system.

"Potential fraudsters should be aware that all identity documents sent to the agency are subject to stringent checks by trained staff, and we have a proven track record in identifying fraudulent and suspect applications."

As well as knowing that the identity fraudsters are bought to justice, Ms Davies would like to see a change in the way deaths are registered to prevent this happening to someone else.

"Anyone can take your name and date of birth and just go and get your birth certificate, in anyone's name. It's so easy to do."

Have you ever been a victim of identity fraud? Let us know by sharing your experiences below, or by emailing us at xray@bbc.co.uk.

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