ZamZam/Porchlight Saints and Scroungers


ZamZam/Porchlight

Series looking at benefit fraud. The case of the two scamming sisters who used a fake identity to steal tens of thousands of pounds from the British public.


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Transcript


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Welcome to Saints And Scroungers, the show that exposes benefit thieves, cheats and liars.

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But it does also unearth the people that genuinely need help.

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This is the front line in the battle against benefit fraud.

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Saints and Scroungers is all about busting benefit thieves who steal millions every year

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and the crack teams of investigators determined to scupper their devious scams.

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We also shine a light on the saints, people committed to putting money

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into the pockets of those who deserve it and the people too proud to claim what is rightfully theirs.

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And coming up on today's programme,

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two scrounging sisters, one stolen identity

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and enough cash to lord it up in limos.

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Clearly this family had access to money

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and were not afraid to spend it.

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And saintly intervention for the homeless.

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You don't want to be helped. You don't feel as though you deserve it.

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You know, as an A-list celebrity, I could get quite used to this lifestyle.

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Being chauffeured around in a limousine like this, sipping on the old bubbly.

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But if I was living and working in this country illegally whilst claiming benefits,

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I'd be a little bit more discreet. You know, keep my head down, keep a low profile.

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But that's not what two sisters thought. Oh, no.

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Meet Ugandan sisters Yudaya and Racheal,

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who lived in the UK for over a decade.

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They passed themselves off as model citizens.

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But in fact, they were living a double life,

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operating under the same stolen identity

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which they'd taken from an innocent third sister

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and were using to steal jobs and tens of thousands from the British public.

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And it would be a video camera, bought with their stolen cash,

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that would ultimately lead to their downfall.

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It all began back in 1997, when one of the sisters,

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Yudaya Nassolo, visited the UK from Uganda.

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Problem is, she never went home.

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Yudaya set about applying for a permanent visa.

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While it was processed, she wasn't legally allowed to work.

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And as she didn't have a penny to her name,

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she was entitled to benefits,

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so she turned to Croydon Council for help.

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We were paying her entire rent, her council tax, utility bills.

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She was provided with food vouchers and a basic amount to spend to live on.

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Remember, this was someone who came to the UK as a visitor.

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Now she was living off state handouts.

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But the help didn't end there.

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So also claimed to have a serious illness,

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entitling her to additional support from social services.

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Because of this illness that she had,

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she was meant to receive regular care and visits from social workers.

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They had real difficulty getting into that house.

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They called round on a regular basis, but it was very hard to get past the front door.

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Social services were getting concerned about Yudaya's welfare.

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But after months and months of trying to get inside the property,

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the social workers finally got lucky.

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At a point in time, when they did gain access to the property,

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what they actually saw was a lifestyle that was way beyond the person we were supporting.

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Now, remember, this was a woman supposedly living in poverty.

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But what the social workers saw was a whole host of luxury goods,

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including a large plasma TV and expensive leather settees.

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Social services were immediately suspicious

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that Yudaya might be supplementing her benefits by working illegally.

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So they contacted Croydon Council's fraud team.

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And David Hogan immediately launched a full-scale investigation.

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We thought, "Yeah, something clearly is wrong with this"

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and we decided to use some surveillance

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to try to work out really what she was doing,

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because we weren't entirely sure at this point how she was managing to live above her means.

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Council fraud investigation units have access to crack teams

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trained in undercover techniques and I've arranged a meeting

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with the man in charge of the stake out of Yudaya Nassolo.

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Andy, you were one of the investigating officers in the case. Tell me about the surveillance.

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It was crucial, cos we had this allegation that she may be working,

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-so we needed to have her followed.

-What did the investigators find?

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They found her going to two places. One was South Bank University

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-down at the Elephant and Castle.

-Was she studying there?

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-Our enquiries found out, yes, she was studying to get a nursing qualification.

-Right.

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And she received a bursary from the NHS to do that.

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A bursary is a chunk of money they give you and you don't pay it back.

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That's what I understand, yes. They give it to staff to get trained up

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and in this case, she received just under £18,000.

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-You're joking!

-No.

-OK. I wasn't expecting it to be that high.

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-It's very costly training.

-What else was she up to?

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They found her going to a nursing home in Wallington

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and our enquiries there found that she was working as a care assistant.

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OK, you've got this woman claiming benefits, she's training as a nurse,

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she's getting a government payout for the training,

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-she's also working as a care assistant.

-Correct.

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-She's certainly not destitute, is she?

-No.

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Shocking stuff. Yudaya might have been entitled to benefits

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but she had no legal right to work,

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let alone be claiming an NHS bursary.

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My question is, how on earth was she getting away with it?

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She was using two identities.

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She presented herself to the council to get assistance

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in the name Yudaya Nassolo.

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-Mm-hm.

-She was using the identity of a Zam Zam Nagujja to get work

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and to claim the NHS bursary.

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Andy had cracked it. Yudaya was using her real name

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to claim thousands in benefits

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and the stolen identity of Zam Zam Nagujja

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to work and claim the NHS bursary.

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Now that we had identified the bursary,

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we realised there were funds being paid by the NHS,

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so we brought in their own fraud unit to work in partnership with us.

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Colin Edwards is the NHS counter-fraud specialist

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who took up the case.

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I made enquiries with the NHS bursaries department

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and we did discover that a person by the name of Zam Zam Nagujja

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was indeed claiming an NHS bursary.

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So Colin and David decided the next step was to pay South Bank University a visit

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to see if they could unearth any more information about this mysterious Zam Zam.

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We met with the head administrator

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who was very, very cooperative in providing us with a copy of the student file

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and we found that the documents held on that file caused some concerns.

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What had caught the investigator's eye was a photocopy of a Ugandan passport

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in the name Zam Zam Nagujja,

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complete with a Home Office stamp granting leave to remain in the UK.

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Investigator Andy Lang may have had intelligence Yudaya was posing as Zam Zam

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but the passport on file at the university looked genuine.

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So what was going on?

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David and myself agreed that we would pursue the case

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and we contacted the immigration service.

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Tina Lyonette works for the UK Border Agency.

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After hearing a little about the case, she agreed to meet.

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The team's first task

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was to establish once and for all that Zam Zam and Yudaya were one and the same.

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So Colin presented Tina with the passport photo of Zam Zam

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he'd retrieved from South Bank University.

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Having the photograph

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allowed us to compare our records with the records held with the immigration service

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and that Tina Lyonette was able to bring with her to our first meeting.

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Snap. The photos were clearly taken years apart,

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but they are categorically the same person,

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which means that Yudaya is posing as Zam Zam

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and the passport held on the university file must be a fake.

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Now all three agencies were convinced they were dealing with a case of identity theft

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and that Yudaya Nassolo had somehow obtained a Ugandan passport

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in the name of Zam Zam.

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Between the three of us,

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we felt that there was a strong enough case to pursue further.

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But investigators needed more solid evidence

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and Andy Lang's surveillance team were still hard at it.

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What else did you uncover that surprised you?

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She was driving around in a car when they followed her to the nursing home,

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-and we did checks on the vehicle. The car was registered to the name Racheal Thorn.

-Who was that?

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Andy explains that Racheal Thorn is, in fact, Yudaya's sister

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and the owner of the car Yudaya is driving around in.

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But there was another shock in store.

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We've since found out that Racheal Thorn was also working in this country

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under the name Zam Zam Nagujja.

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Hold your horses a minute. So we've already got one sister, Yudaya,

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posing as Zam Zam. Now Andy had discovered that her sister, Racheal,

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was also working under the same pseudonym.

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-She was also using the false identity. There were two of them using the same identity.

-Right.

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The case was expanding in scale. Now the hunt was on for the sister, Racheal.

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If they were going to get to the bottom of this scam,

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they had to find her.

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After a huge trawl through public records,

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investigators tracked down a Zam Zam Nagujja

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working for a catering department at Sutton Hospital.

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Could this be the sister Racheal or was Yudaya moonlighting here, too?

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-THEY CHEER

-Coming up,

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the true extent of the sisters' deception is revealed.

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From the scroungers ripping off the system to the people we call our saints,

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those individuals who help put money into the pockets of people in genuine need

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and the people who are too proud or simply don't know how to claim what is rightfully due to them.

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Most of us take having a roof over our head for granted.

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But for some, living on the streets is a reality. And it's tough.

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A homeless charity in Kent called Porchlight is on a mission.

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The main aim is to get people who are homeless,

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take them out of the situation, find them appropriate accommodation,

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help turn their lives around, because sometimes all they need is

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that step on the ladder to do so.

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But Neil is all too aware that just putting a roof over someone's head isn't always enough.

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Unfortunately, with homelessness, there's no quick solution. We have to look at the long-term picture.

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Two-month or three-month segments would not be very productive

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and it could create more problems that it helps.

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OK. So at this charity, the focus is on long-term support.

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All well and good, but how does it work exactly?

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First things first, we would find someone,

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identify the fact that they are homeless,

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then we'd try and look for somewhere appropriate for them to stay,

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but also making sure that they're getting the correct benefits.

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The next step is to look at confidence building

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through organised group activities and voluntary work.

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Once they feel comfortable enough to move onto the next step, we look at some kind of employment.

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One couple whose lives have been forever changed by the charity are Carlton and Sue.

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Five years ago, Carlton relocated from Liverpool to Kent to set up home with Sue.

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But she soon realised there was a problem.

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Quite soon after we met, I could tell there were things

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that weren't quite right, in terms of there wasn't a job.

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But then, gradually, I could just recognise about the addictions.

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Things like the cans lying around when I'd come back at 3:30 in the afternoon

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and thinking, "Hold on a minute, that's a bit early"

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and just the mood swings were quite obvious, as well.

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Carlton finally confessed to Sue he was an alcoholic.

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The situation at home then quickly deteriorated.

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Sometimes it got quite... uncomfortable, quite scary.

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I did become quite fearful. Fearful that if I didn't please him, then he would get angry,

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so it was tiptoeing around, making sure I was doing everything right. And the awful thing was,

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whatever I did, it wasn't right. It's only now I understand that's the disease of alcoholism.

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Carlton's drinking was increasing. So was his aggressive behaviour.

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Sue knew something had to change.

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Love really wasn't the be all and end all at that point.

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It was actually about safety. Physical safety, emotional wellbeing, for all three of us.

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So the decision was that we would part company.

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Carlton felt he had no choice but to join the ranks of the homeless,

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and he began sleeping rough in the seaside town of Ramsgate.

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Once you found yourself living out there on the street, just how bad did things get?

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It got really bad, you know.

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I had no money. The depression got worse.

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You're on a downward slope. You're thinking, "How did I get here? What am I going to do?"

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You've got no prospects. You've got no hope.

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Many nights, you just drink so much that your body numbs up,

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so you don't feel the cold.

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Carlton had reached rock bottom. Then a visit marked the beginning of a new journey.

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I remember, one morning, this gentleman walking over to me with his little rucksack on,

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and I can remember just looking at him and thinking, "Don't come near me. Go away."

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I didn't know what he wanted or who he was.

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The man was an outreach worker and, undeterred by Carlton's initial rejection of help,

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he continued to visit.

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To have somebody there that took an interest in you

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and really showed some compassion, it was strange.

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It was very hard to trust that person.

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Because they were very determined and kept coming back,

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it broke down a few of my barriers and I started to open up.

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Getting people off the streets is only half the solution when it comes to homelessness.

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In here is where the real hard work starts.

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I've come to the hostel that took Carlton in to meet his key worker, Jill Smith.

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-When Carlton came here, how bad were his problems?

-Very bad.

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He was in a very bad way. He was extremely depressed,

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he was drinking very heavily

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as a result of all the things that had been happening to him.

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He had lost his job, he had lost his relationship,

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he had lost the roof over his head.

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He didn't really know which way to turn at that point.

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Carlton's key worker arranged for him to get professional help with his addiction

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and after six months, he was sober.

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Next, Carlton started the charity's employability training programme

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to help prepare him for the workplace.

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I learnt lots of things on presentations, communication, interview techniques,

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but the main thing that I got from the course

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was interaction with other people again

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and it gave me the self-belief that I had something valuable to offer other people.

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And this ability to offer something back to others didn't go unnoticed by the Porchlight team.

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We started looking at a scheme that was starting up within Porchlight

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where they were taking on trainees to train them in the work

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and he seemed an ideal candidate for it.

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The training in question was to become a youth leader,

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educating children in the issues relating to homelessness.

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The education programme appealed to me,

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going out, speaking to young adults in the schools,

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giving something back,

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hopefully letting the kids learn from my experience.

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So I went for that position and, fortunately, I got it.

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It's really great to see Carlton now, because he's come full circle.

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In the last, perhaps, three or four months, he's just excelled.

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He's exceedingly competent at what he does

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and he's very clear and concise with the young people we work with and he's got a story to tell.

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A lot of homeless people are crazy. Is that true or false?

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To see people go from that starting point

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of living in one of our hostels to now working for us and delivering services is really gratifying.

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-How do you feel for what you've achieved with Carlton?

-Privileged.

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It's a privilege to help people turn their lives around. There's nothing else like it.

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-Do you love your job?

-I do. Yeah, I do. I do.

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Without the support I got from Porchlight...

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..I would never have been in the position I am now.

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I always thought and believed in him, that one day he would get better, and that day has come now.

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I'm 11 months sober. I've still got issues to face, but now I can face them head on with confidence,

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and a brighter future.

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From the saints back to the scroungers.

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Every year in the UK, over a billion pounds is lost to benefit fraud.

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That's enough to pay for 40,000 NHS nurses.

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But those who commit the crime should always be prepared to do the time.

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A massive multi-agency investigation is underway.

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The UK Border Agency, Croydon Council and the NHS

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are closing in on two scrounging sisters operating

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under the same stolen identity, Zam Zam Nagujja.

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Investigators had already tracked down one sister, Yudaya,

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posing as Zam Zam working illegally as a nurse

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while claiming £137,000 in benefits.

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With Yudaya firmly fixed on the fraud team's radar,

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they now needed to locate her sister, Racheal,

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and they had a very hot lead.

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They'd identified a person working under the name of Zam Zam

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at a catering company.

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At first, we weren't quite sure if they were the same person,

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so we arranged to go and meet the manager of the catering unit

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where we posed as two prospective clients.

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Sneaky, but I like it. And it paid off.

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By meeting this Zam Zam face to face,

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they were able to confirm this was Yudaya's married sister, Racheal Thorn.

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So here we had two sisters

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that have come into the UK from Uganda, they were using the same identity,

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the identity of Zam Zam Nagujja, and had used this successfully to get into the system.

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But was Zam Zam Nagujja a real person or a figment of the sisters' imagination?

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The name Zam Zam Nagujja actually is a real person.

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In fact, when we did some checks,

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the real Zam Zam had been at university in Manchester in the '90s.

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And there was another surprise in store.

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Because it turns out that Zam Zam Nagujja

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is related to Yudaya and Racheal.

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In fact, she was a third sister. But an entirely innocent one,

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oblivious that her ID had been stolen and tampered with

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and was being used by members of her own family to extract money from the UK.

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THEY CHEER

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And boy, oh, boy, as this home video footage shows,

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Yudaya and Racheal knew how to splash the cash.

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After a year of hard graft pooling information,

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investigators were ready to act.

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It's time to take this pair of scrounging sisters down.

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And in 2008, Yudaya and Racheal were placed under arrest.

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It was very important that we actually put a stop to this once and for all.

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With the sisters under lock and key,

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investigators were given the green light to search Yudaya's property.

0:22:420:22:46

We found evidence of identity documents,

0:22:470:22:51

bank accounts in the name Zam Zam Nagujja,

0:22:510:22:55

and, interestingly, numerous money transfers back to Kampala.

0:22:550:23:00

-Are we talking about large sums?

-They were significant sums of money.

0:23:000:23:04

I can't give you the actual values off the top of my head, but it was considerable amounts,

0:23:040:23:08

and we believe, because the search also found pictures of the family

0:23:080:23:13

standing in newly built properties over in Kampala,

0:23:130:23:16

so we think she was sending money home to fund those properties.

0:23:160:23:20

If that's right, us as taxpayers have bought her and her family

0:23:200:23:23

-a house in Uganda.

-Effectively, yes.

-That's got to hurt. It hurts me.

0:23:230:23:27

It hurts us, as well. That's why we investigate these and hope that we can catch these people.

0:23:270:23:32

The team didn't only find cash transfers to Uganda.

0:23:340:23:38

They found forged documents and bank account details

0:23:380:23:41

showing significant savings.

0:23:410:23:43

The other thing we found that was quite interesting

0:23:450:23:49

was some home videos. They showed the lifestyle they were living.

0:23:490:23:54

There was one video where a stretch limousine had been hired.

0:23:540:23:59

The video showed them inside the stretch limousine

0:23:590:24:03

opening champagne, laughing.

0:24:030:24:06

They were very happy with the circumstances they were in.

0:24:060:24:09

There is pictures of them having extravagant Christmas presents.

0:24:090:24:13

Clearly, this family had access to money

0:24:130:24:16

and were not afraid to spend it.

0:24:160:24:18

And this, of course, was in clear contrast

0:24:220:24:26

to how she presented to the council. This was, after all, somebody who

0:24:260:24:30

was meant to be living on food stamps,

0:24:300:24:32

who received a cash allowance just to take care of her bare subsistence.

0:24:320:24:37

And, clearly, the two just didn't align.

0:24:370:24:40

After two years and the combined efforts of three agencies,

0:24:430:24:48

investigators now had both sisters under arrest

0:24:480:24:51

and all the evidence they needed to put this scrounging pair

0:24:510:24:54

in front of a judge.

0:24:540:24:56

So, basically, you had them bang to rights, two people working,

0:24:570:25:01

-both using false identities in this country.

-That's correct.

-Filtering money out.

0:25:010:25:05

Yep. Stealing off the public purse. It was a long investigation, but worth it.

0:25:050:25:09

In 2009, the sisters were summoned to court to face the prosecution.

0:25:130:25:18

Racheal Thorn received numerous charges, including entering the UK by deception,

0:25:200:25:25

obtaining wages by deception and using a false identity.

0:25:250:25:29

Despite the weight of evidence against her,

0:25:290:25:33

Racheal pleaded not guilty.

0:25:330:25:35

But on 6th July, 2009,

0:25:360:25:39

a jury found her guilty and she was sentenced to 21 months behind bars,

0:25:390:25:44

to be followed by immediate deportation.

0:25:440:25:47

Her sister, Yudaya, was in even bigger trouble.

0:25:490:25:52

She faced more charges, including possession of false documents,

0:25:520:25:55

obtaining advantage by deception,

0:25:550:25:59

making false representations

0:25:590:26:01

and three charges of conspiring to enter the UK illegally.

0:26:010:26:05

Knowing her card was well and truly marked,

0:26:050:26:08

Yudaya pleaded guilty and was subsequently thrown into jail for three years,

0:26:080:26:13

after which she, too, will be on a one-way trip back to Uganda.

0:26:130:26:18

This was a very big case for us here in Croydon.

0:26:200:26:23

It spanned a long time, it was high value,

0:26:230:26:25

so we're extremely pleased with the outcome

0:26:250:26:27

and it shows you how, when agencies get together, how much more effective we can be.

0:26:270:26:32

Well, I don't think that pair of scrounging sisters

0:26:330:26:36

are going to be sipping champagne for quite some time now.

0:26:360:26:39

Unless they serve it in jail, which I doubt very much.

0:26:390:26:42

Now, where shall I go to lunch?

0:26:420:26:45

Oysters at The Ivy, I think. Yeah.

0:26:450:26:48

Oi!

0:26:480:26:49

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:000:27:04

E-mail [email protected]

0:27:040:27:08

Dominic Littlewood presents a series looking at the work of fraud investigators searching out benefit thieves and meets the people they are stealing from - the genuine claimants.

Dominic presents the case of the two scamming sisters who used a fake identity to steal tens of thousands of pounds from the British public, and meets an organisation on a mission to help the homeless get off the streets and back into life.


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