Judge berates “criminal industry” as Upper Clapton man jailed for �3.8m tax credit and benefits scam

A man from Upper Clapton who used stolen identities to try and claim �3.8 million in a tax credits and benefits scam has been jailed.

Adeola Thomas, 38, of Nightingale Road, was foiled after a long and complex HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) criminal investigation.

The Nigerian had submitted hundreds of false claims for Social Fund payments to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and for tax credits to HMRC.

The vast majority of the claims were rejected but �87,000 was paid out.

He was helped by his partner Abimbola Abiola, 34, and the pair stole more than 1,400 identities to complete 2,495 claim forms for tax credits and benefits.

Thomas spent his share of the money on designer clothes, while Abiola treated herself to a 50-inch television.

The fraud was discovered when HMRC noticed that a number of tax credit claims, supposedly from different people, came from the same addresses.

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HMRC investigators also discovered the same addresses were used for a number of Post Office card accounts and it became clear to them that the DWP was being defrauded in the same way.

Thomas was arrested at a cash point outside a Hackney post office last October while under surveillance by teams from HMRC.

At the time of her arrest on the same date, Abiola had �4,125 cash in her handbag, which she claimed was her child benefit payment. She has one child.

Adeola Thomas pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to defraud HMRC and DWP and associated money laundering offences at Snaresbrook Crown Court on July 13.

At the same court on August 28, Abimbola Abiola was found guilty on four counts of conspiracy to defraud HMRC and DWP, associated money laundering offences and possession of criminal property.

Upon sentencing at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Thursday September 27, His Honour Judge Kennedy said: “This was no less than a criminal industry, with simple and eye-watering criminality designed to maximise the loss to the public.

“It was a difficult investigation carried out with skill and tenacity,” he added.

“The largest single joint conspiracy [of its kind] for these departments and the actual loss was kept down because of the work of both departments.”

Adeola Thomas was sentenced to seven years in jail and the Judge indicated he should be deported at the end of his jail term. His wife received two and a half years in jail.

Anyone with information about suspected tax credits or benefits fraud can call the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440.