- Antoinette and Louise Kaidi guilty of 23 counts including fraud, dishonesty
- Convicted of taking thousands from the NHS in training and bursary costs
- Also took false tax credit and income support payments from public purse
- Carried out 12 year scam after both assumed so-called ‘ghost identities’
Hundreds of illegal immigrants using fake identities are free to plunder millions in benefits after the Home Office halted a major fraud investigation, it was claimed yesterday.
The claim came after the two final members of an African gang who pocketed more than £8million in criminal benefits were jailed.
Antoinette and Louise Kaidi lived in Britain under false names for 13 years and illegally made £560,000 between them in a ‘very sophisticated’ scam. It included fraudulent claims for housing benefit, income support, jobseekers allowance and student bursaries.
‘It led to many applications simply not being checked properly and opened the possibility for fraudulent applications and subsequently fraudulent benefits claims,’ the source said.
The Kaidis spent 13 years using the identities of sisters from Togo in West Africa who applied for asylum in the early 1990s but never pursued their claim.
Louise is believed to be from Uganda and Antoinette is of mixed Nigerian-Ghanaian heritage but prosecutor Caoimhe Daly told the court: ‘We have no idea who they are.’
As well as pocketing huge sums in benefits, the pair trained as nurses in their fake names, claiming generous state-funded NHS student bursaries. Even Antoinette’s husband, with whom she has two children, was unaware she had a fake name until her arrest, the court heard.
At trial the pair kept claiming to be from French-speaking Togo. Antoinette said she was brought to Britain aged nine by her mother who forced her to work as a slave in homes around London. But she could not recall a single address where she was ‘enslaved’. She claimed her mother paid for a private tutor to teach her English, explaining why she cannot speak a word of French.
They were tried under their ‘ghost identities’ as their real names remain a mystery. They pleaded guilty mid-way through their trial because their defence was so ‘risible’ the jury was ‘laughing’ at them, Croydon Crown Court heard.
It ended a complex six-year investigation involving multiple government departments, councils and employers that led to 21 people being convicted, including the gang’s masterminds.
But a source involved in the probe said there were many more suspected fraudsters connected to the scam who had been allowed to get away with it.
Jordan Sebutemba was given a suspended sentence in April
‘We know of many hundreds of others linked to this group but the investigation has been stopped because the Home Office says there is no more cash left to pursue them,’ the source said. ‘We understand the problems it faces but it’s extremely frustrating. The lack of resources means we have got hundreds out there who have no right to be here who will be claiming benefits until they die.’
An unknown Home Office ‘mole’, suspected of helping the gang claim false identities from the inside, also remains at large, it was claimed. The source blamed the original problem on the Home Office’s ‘Fairer, Faster And Firmer’ white paper introduced by the Blair government in 1998 which aimed to accelerate immigration and asylum applications.