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SENTENCED: NHS Worker jailed for £93k false identity fraud

Press release – 11 August 2016

A woman who provided false identity documents to secure work as an NHS Student Nurse has been jailed for 16 months, after a joint investigation by NHS Protect and Home Office Immigration Service.

Adaku OKAFOR, 32, of Downend Rd, Bristol, was found guilty of four offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and Identity Documents Act 2010 at Bristol Crown Court on 3rd August 2016.

In addition to the sentence of 16 months imprisonment, Judge Harington ordered a victim surcharge and recommended deportation stating "... the Defendant devised a sophisticated method of remaining in UK... the use of a false passport very serious... The use of false identity documents is taken extremely seriously by Court".

Adaku OKAFOR secured NHS employment for eight years using forged and stolen identity documents, false employment references and fake European Union (EU) documentation. OKAFOR was also awarded an NHS student bursary to fund her nursing training.

During the investigation between NHS Protect and Home Office Immigration Service, passports and other identity documents were tested and found to be false, forged and improperly obtained.

Sue Frith, Managing Director, NHS Protect said: “These were serious offences committed over a long period of time, with the intent of diverting public money away from the NHS and other government agencies. The sentence reflects this and should send out a warning to those intending to defraud the NHS”.

Ian Gilpin, Anti-Fraud Specialist at NHS Protect said: “Through effective joint working with the Home Office Immigration, NHS Protect was able to uncover the full extent of the OKAFOR deception. As a result of adopting these false identities, she was able to deceive the NHS and several other government departments. By taking up a university place, she denied genuine applicants the chance to start their studies and embark upon careers in nursing”.

Kelly MacDonald, HO Immigration Investigator said: “We worked closely with NHS Protect on this case to bring this criminal to justice. We know it's only a small minority of people who commit identity fraud, but our investigators work tirelessly to root out those who are out to steal from taxpayers”.

For more information contact Amanda Hill at the NHS Protect press office on 0191 204 6336 / mobile 07710 152 272.

Further information on NHS Protect is at www.nhsprotect.nhs.uk

Notes to Editors

1. To report any incident of suspected fraud in the NHS, please call the Fraud and Corruption Reporting Line on 0800 028 40 60 or report online at www.reportnhsfraud.nhs.uk

2. NHS Protect successfully used intelligence and information reported via their Fraud & Corruption Reporting Line to disrupt the fraudulent activity. The original allegation stated a number of individuals in the Bristol area were using false identity to gain NHS employment. This press release reports the outcome of the trial against OKAFOR. Measures are in place for one member, who has fled the UK, to be arrested upon re-entry. Another member who was involved was deported by HO Immigration Service.

3. The use of OKAFOR identities were discovered as part of a joint fraud investigation with HO Immigration Service.

4. Media coverage by Bristol Post, crown court reporter Geoff Bennett, article links:
http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/student-nurse-who-worked-in-bristol-hospitals-without-permission-faces-sentence/story-29581848-detail/story.html

http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/nursing-assistant-denies-working-in-bristol-fraudulently-after-her-leave-to-stay-in-uk-expired/story-29572980-detail/story.html

5. The value of fraud, bribery and corruption identified by NHS Protect and Local Counter Fraud Specialists (LCFSs) following the successful conclusion of investigations in 2015/16 was £6.5 million. Over £2 million restrained and over £2.4 million confiscated using Proceeds of Crime Act as at 31st March 2016.

6. As of 31 March 2016, NHS Protect was investigating allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption was in excess of £25 million.

7. There are 300 professionally-trained and accredited Local Counter Fraud Specialists in place within health bodies across England and Wales.

8. NHS Protect is the operating name of the NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service.