Three fraudsters who used the names of more than 200 dead children to launder profits from an attempted £1m VAT fraud have been jailed for more than 16 years.
Saheed Oyeneye, 35, Rasaq Omotunde, 38, and Oluwakemi Adesaogun, 38, all from south east London, set up hundreds of bogus online HMRC accounts to ‘get rich quick’ off the public purse.
The Nigerian-born adopted false identities of hundreds of unsuspecting victims, mirroring the tactic employed by the assassin in The Day of the Jackal, as part of his plot to shoot French president Charles de Gaulle.
- Trio, from south east London, set up hundreds of bogus HMRC accounts
- They then filed fake tax repayment applications online under false names
- They used names of cricketers and rugby union stars to swindle £250,000
- Similar tactic was employed by the assassin in thriller Day of the Jackal
- Oyebanji Oyeneye, 35, Rasaq Omotunde, 38, and Oluwakemi Adesaogun, 38, jailed
In a scenario similar to that of the Frederick Forsyth novel, the trio men stole the identities of more than 200 dead British babies, before using their names to bombard the government with tax repayment applications.
They also adopted the identities of sports personalities, including cricketers and rugby union stars, by scouring the internet for their personal details and cobbling together a fake profile.
The three men also targeted thousands of members of the public as they attempted to swindle £1m, Southwark Crown Court was told.
In total, the gang managed to pocket around £250,000, which was banked across hundreds of accounts which had been set up under false names.
But the trio were rumbled early on by HMRC and did not pay out more than three-quarters of the money.
When their homes were searched, investigators discovered the personal details of more than 200 dead children were stored on computers, the court heard.
At the peak of the fraud, the thieves were using more than 20 internet cafes to register up to 301 new accounts a day.
Oyeneye, from Hither Green, Omotunde, from Sydenham and Adesaogun, from Woolwich, all pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud.
Today, Judge Stephen Robbins jailed Oyeneye for five and a half years, Omotunde for six years and Adesaogun for five years.
After the sentencing, Christopher Gill, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: ‘This trio thought they were running a high-tech and sophisticated fraud using a series of addresses and internet cafes to set up accounts using stolen data.
‘They bombarded the system with applications for tax repayments from these fake accounts, in the hope of getting rich quick.
‘These fraudsters thought the anonymity of the internet would protect them.’
He added: ‘This case demonstrates that we can and will track down and prosecute those who attack our online systems.
‘This was nothing but a common repayment fraud attempt which our systems quickly identified as bogus. HMRC shuts down the vast majority of bogus repayment applications.’
The trio will face confiscation proceedings at a later date but most of the money has already vanished.
The book’s protagonist – the Jackal – trawls three village graveyards looking for the headstone of a baby boy who, had he not died, would have been about the same age as the assassin.
Taking the details of the late Alexander James Quentin Duggan to the Central Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths, the Jackal buys a copy of the deceased’s birth certificate – all the proof he needs to successfully apply for a passport.