Working illegally when she had no right to be in the UK, a woman went on to use a fake passport to claim more than £57,000 in housing and council tax benefit payments.
Following an investigation by the council’s corporate anti-fraud team, Sabrina Thompson, 30, previously of Alexandra Road, Addiscombe, appeared at Croydon Crown Court, on 15 June, having previously pleaded guilty to fraud and using a fake passport.
She was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 120 hours’ of unpaid work, and pay £500 costs.
The court heard that, in 2002, Thompson entered the UK, from Jamaica, on a six-month visitor permit. Her leave to remain was extended to October 2004, in order that she could attend college. However, she remained in Britain with no further leave to do so and no means of legally claiming benefits.
In March 2008, Thompson made an application for housing and council tax benefit, using a British passport, but, following an anonymous tip off, an investigation was launched. The anti-fraud team quickly established that the passport was not genuine and that Thompson had no leave to remain in the UK. The passport was seized and destroyed.
It was also established that she was working for restaurant chain McDonald’s, without Home Office permission to take employment, which resulted in her being dismissed.
When interviewed, Thompson admitted the offences, which had seen her gain housing and council tax benefits to which she was not entitled, amounting to £57,490.80, for the five-year period from March 2008.
Mr Recorder Burns, QC, said that these were serious offences for which only a custodial sentence was appropriate. However, taking into account her early guilty plea and good character, and because she had shown remorse, he suspended the sentence.
She has been given further leave to remain, as she now has a British partner and children who were born in the UK.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“Two serious offences – fraud and using the false passport – allied to the facts she shouldn’t have been in the country, nor working while here, have cost this woman her good name and landed her with a criminal record.
“The diligent work of the council’s anti-fraud team has brought an end to her offences and stopped her taking money from the public purse, where it is used to help those with a legitimate claim for the benefits she accrued, by blatantly breaking the law.”