Series looking at benefit fraud. An abandoned suitcase sets off alarm bells in Croydon, leading investigators to a woman wrongly claiming thousands of pounds of housing benefit.
Browse content similar to Ubiribo/Leech. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
What makes this country great is that we give money to people who need it,
but the only problem with that is, wherever there's money, there are people who want to steal it.
Welcome to the world of Saints and Scroungers.
Saints and Scroungers puts the spotlight
on benefit thieves who ruthlessly steal millions of pounds every year from the British taxpayer.
And it highlights the plight of men and women who are too proud
or simply don't know how to claim the benefits they deserve.
The saints get help and the scroungers
get tracked down by the fraud investigators
who put an end to their devious scams.
And coming up on today's programme: A suitcase full of documentation
sets off alarm bells in Croydon's fraud office.
That raised questions as to what this was doing in somebody's garden shed.
And a loving father who takes on an unfair law.
It just seems crazy that somebody who suspends
their studies for illness, you know, serious illness, doesn't get a penny.
But first, most fraud investigations involve tip-offs,
but not all of them come from the bottom of a garden.
Look, it's a bloke thing. We like rummaging round in garden sheds.
Just look at all the useful stuff in here, stepladders, bits of wood, come in very handy.
Power tools, I like a bit of DIY and...
what is this?!
Surely not a pile of incriminating evidence?
No-one would be stupid enough to leave that lying around - would they?
Meet Juliet Ubiribo, a single mum of two.
Born in Nigeria, but naturalised a British citizen.
She was living in Croydon in south London and claiming thousands
of pounds worth of housing benefit which went to her landlord, Mr Neburagho.
She was also hiding a secret about him which she thought would never be discovered, but she was wrong.
Because when the fraud department at Croydon Council
get a sniff of something suspicious, they get the investigators on to it.
And in this case, it was Zoe Neale.
I'll let her tell you the story.
In 2003, Juliet Ubiribo came to Croydon Council and she claimed housing benefit on the basis she was
a single parent with two children, she was on low earnings and she needed help to pay her rent.
She claimed that her landlord was Mr Neburagho, and she and Mr Neburagho
produced documentation which said that he did not live at the property, he lived in Acton.
So, nothing out of the ordinary so far.
Juliet stayed at the property for four years.
During that time she claimed a total of...
..in housing and council tax benefit.
Most of it, just over £40,000, was housing benefit and it went
to her landlord, Mr Neburagho, but then there was a change in her circumstances.
In 2007 she came to the council to say that she needed to be re-housed
because the house was being sold, her landlord was selling up.
And he was. Nothing wrong with a landlord selling a house
or a tenant needing help to find somewhere to live.
So far, this pair had done little to attract attention to themselves.
However, the house in question happened to be sold to a fraud investigator from Croydon Council.
Believe it or not, they move home as well, you know.
The colleague moved in and eventually they found in the garden shed a suitcase full of documentation.
This documentation was copies of financial statements, copies of letters from bailiffs, and a lot
of immigration documentation belonging to people, who, as far as they knew didn't live at the house.
And being a fraud investigator, the new owner went through
this paperwork with interest and one particular piece of paper caught their well-trained eye.
Among the items, they found a lot of correspondence from debt collecting agencies, in the name of Neburagho,
which was strange as he was not supposed to live at the address.
So, the alarm bells started to ring, but not too loudly at this stage.
Yes, it was strange that a letter had been sent to Mr Neburagho, even though he didn't live there,
but he was the landlord, he owned the property, maybe there was a mix-up, so, the story continues.
Juliet Ubiribo came back to Croydon Council, claiming she was homeless,
on the basis that her ex-partner is being abusive to her.
Now, claiming she was suffering from abuse and homelessness was a serious matter and anyone in this situation
is quite rightly put at the top of the list for a council house,
but Zoe noticed something strange about the phone number
that Juliet had given for an ex-partner,
and it's often these little things that trip up the big fraudsters.
The phone number she supplied for her ex-partner
matched the phone number as being Mr Neburagho, who's also her landlord.
Wow! Those alarm bells were definitely ringing now.
Could Juliet's ex-partner be her landlord,
the man she had paid over £40,000 worth of housing benefit to?
And what about the documents found in the shed, the visa applications and immigration papers?
Could they be tied in to this case as well?
What had begun as a simple application for help finding
a new home had grown into a potential fraud case.
Zoe decided she needed back-up.
At about that time, we started working with UKBA,
the UK Border Agency, to look at the immigration aspect of the case.
Because Mr Neburagho was supposed to be a British-born Nigerian, Juliet Ubiribo was born in Nigeria,
but was a naturalised British citizen, but enquiries showed she was married to Mr Mayomi,
who was a Nigerian national, but had applied to come to the UK on a spouse visa.
So, Juliet was married - to a Mr Nelson Mayomi.
This meant she had lied on the statement she made claiming to be a single parent.
Mr Mayomi was her husband and it looked as though her ex-partner could have been her landlord,
but nothing is clear at this stage.
So, it's time to meet Tina Lyonette,
a criminal investigator at the UK Border Agency.
I want to get the low-down on the three people involved in this case -
Juliet Ubiribo, Mr Mayomi and Mr Neburagho.
How did the three names in this case come to your attention?
Originally, Croydon Council were doing an investigation into
-Mr Mayomi and Juliet Ubiribo for benefit fraud.
-Is that the happy couple in that picture?
Yep, that's Juliet and Mr Mayomi.
OK, so their names came to your attention.
-And what about the third one, who was that?
-Croydon Council had the landlord listed as a Mr Neburagho.
I looked on all of the Home Office systems, couldn't find any trace of him at all in the beginning,
so we were a bit stuck as to what his immigration status was.
But then we did wonder, perhaps he was British. So I got a copy,
I asked the passport service to check whether there was
a British passport in that name, that date of birth and there was.
So I got hold of a copy of the photograph.
Matched it to the photograph on the file we had for Mr Mayomi and they were a match.
-They were the same person.
-So, Tina believed that the husband
and landlord were one and the same, operating under two different identities. Very sneaky.
Now, you can't always rely on photos, because
age, camera angles and haircuts all affect the way you look.
So more proof was needed, but one thing seemed increasingly clear -
Juliet's housing benefit money could have been going straight
into her husband's pockets and Zoe was convinced there could be more to this case.
Turning the spotlight onto the Nelson Mayomi identity, she dug deeper
and being a financial investigator, she has more powers than most.
The investigators have quite a lot of powers already under the Data Protection Act,
but as a financial investigator, I can go back further.
for example if someone was investigating a benefit claim,
it's two years' worth of overpayment, because of the Proceeds of Crime Act, I can go back six years' worth and
take into account six years' worth of income and transfers and how they obtain their assets.
I do like the sound of that Proceeds of Crime Act.
In a nutshell, if Zoe thinks someone has stolen benefit money and obtained assets as a result of their
criminal activity, she can go after every illegal penny they've made and make them pay it back.
In this case, Zoe knew Nelson Mayomi was Juliet's husband and possibly her landlord.
What she didn't know, though, was how he made a living and she was in for a shock.
As part of the investigation we did business record checks,
we found out he was the director of a taxi firm in London.
As part of my investigation, I'd been looking at his accounts, I found
in just over a year, £400,000 has gone through the business accounts.
Oh, yes, you heard it right, £400,000.
And further investigations clearly showed that he was
enjoying the lifestyle that goes with that sort of money.
My inquiries when I'd been going through the business records, shows that he spent £14,000 on alcohol,
and this is bulk purchases of champagne and spirits.
£25,000 of business money was spent on a watch.
About £2,000 that's been spent on chandeliers
and those have been exported to Nigeria.
So, the council thought they were paying benefits to Juliet Ubiribo's landlord,
when in actual fact, they were paying it to her husband and he was running a very successful taxi firm.
Clearly, this couple were doing all right for themselves, and £25,000 for a watch?
Time was running out for this pair of cheats.
Coming up, there's another breakthrough in the Ubiribo case.
The fingerprints matched and it's a strong piece of evidence.
From the scroungers ripping off the system to the people we call our saints, those individuals
who help put money into the pockets of people in genuine need and the people who are too proud,
or simply don't know how to claim what's due to them.
The benefit system is there for those people that genuinely need it.
When it works, it is brilliant.
But occasionally, it doesn't.
That's when people who need it and genuinely deserve it can't get it,
but people power can sometimes change all that.
Ian Leech is a loving dad and devoted football fan.
When he moved to Burton-on-Trent in 2007
with wife Julie and daughters Melissa and Becky, life couldn't have been better.
Life was good in every way for all of us.
We'd just moved in to the house and everything was brilliant.
Eldest daughter Melissa was also having the time of her life.
She was studying psychology at Aston University in Birmingham.
She'd recently been elected editor of the Aston Times paper and on Saturdays there was football,
a passion she shared with her dad.
Saturdays were our time. She, you know, she was just brilliant company to be with. She was very confident.
Yeah, she was just an amazing person.
But, in early 2007, Melissa started to feel unwell.
Mel started losing weight at Easter time.
Which wasn't a great surprise considering the hectic lifestyle she was leading at university.
Then over the summer she had a mouth infection, then a suspected chest infection, there was tonsillitis.
She then started getting very breathless. We took her to hospital.
They again confirmed tonsillitis.
So we came home, but the...
symptoms continued to show themselves and she, you know...
was diagnosed the day after her 20th birthday with lymphoma.
The family were absolutely devastated.
But they were confident Mel would pull through and the prognosis from the doctors was also reassuring.
After six rounds of chemotherapy and maybe some radiotherapy,
they expected Mel to make a full recovery.
Initially, Mel was determined to stay at university and continue her course whilst having the treatment,
but then something happened that forced her to change her mind.
We were at a supermarket and she just collapsed in front of my eyes.
I managed to catch her.
We knew from that moment, that day, that really was when we decided,
"No, we can't do the uni thing and the recovery, it must be one or the other."
That's when she took the decision to suspend her studies.
This is when her fight against the disease and against the benefit system began.
I've come to Burton-on-Trent to meet Ian and find out more.
Obviously she had to come home, but now she's not studying,
she's not working, how did she cope with money?
Well, basically, myself and my wife.
She hadn't drawn on her student loan because the illness was diagnosed in August.
She hadn't actually drawn on a student loan, so we didn't pursue
that avenue, because she wasn't studying, so we applied for benefits.
-And what happened?
-We were refused.
We were refused income support.
Disablement living allowance, you have to wait three months before you can apply for it.
We were also told that it then takes three months to process.
And we applied for incapacity benefit, but again, because she was
a student and she hadn't paid enough stamps, as they say, then she didn't qualify for that and couldn't
qualify for that for six months. So, we were left with nothing.
What was the main reason that benefits were using as their excuse to reject this claim?
They said because she'd suspended her studies, rather than abandon them, she was still classed
as a student, and therefore, as a student, she wasn't eligible for any financial support.
It wasn't that we wanted or Mel wanted
loads and loads of money, she just needed some money, just to live on.
She'd gone from being at university and being very independent to suddenly having to ask
Mum and Dad for everything, and when you're dealing with
the fact that you've got cancer as well, that's a very difficult thing.
It just adds to the pressure, to the burden.
Couldn't you at that point just have said, "Cancel the studies," and then got the benefits?
We could have done. The problem we had with that is that
Melissa was very much into her student life and she loved it.
It was one of her goals, one of her aims was to go back
to university in 12 months' time and carry on where she left off.
Tragically, Melissa never got the chance to carry on where she left off.
Because in early 2008, her condition deteriorated dramatically.
She had a stem cell transplant, and the idea of the transplant was to hold the disease at bay
because it was very aggressive, to hold it for 12 weeks in order for her to have a bone marrow transplant.
That was her only chance of a cure at that point.
Sadly it held it for about seven weeks. On April 1st, of all dates,
April's Fool's Day, we were given the news that there was nothing more that they could do for her.
She remained in hospital for a week, ten days and then we took her home
and we set up her bed underneath the stairs for her, so she was with us.
She had two wishes, one was to be with her family when she passed away, and the other was that she wanted
to die at home, she didn't want to die in hospital or in a hospice.
And thankfully, we managed to do that, and she passed away in the early hours of 11th May.
Words are never enough to describe the loss of a child.
Mel couldn't beat the cancer, but in memory of his daughter,
Ian was determined to continue fighting for benefits for students like her.
She was very adamant before she passed away, that we continued with this.
There were times during the illness when I almost gave up.
I was continually hitting brick walls and not getting anywhere.
There were times, dealing with Mel as ill as she was, and also fighting the Government at the same time.
It took a lot, but the current system was wrong and that, coupled with
Mel's desire to get it sorted, that's what made me fight and continue.
So in honour of Mel's life, courage and fighting spirit, Ian worked tirelessly to change the law.
So it started with letters to your MP. At some point, they started to sit up and listen to you.
I actually told them in the letters that I wasn't going to go away.
My MP contacted a guy called James Plasket,
the MP at the Department for Work and Pensions at the time.
He, again, the reply initially wasn't a favourable one,
but we kept going back to him.
I started copying him into letters that I was sending to my MP.
He began to listen and really when he started listening, with him being at
the Department for Work and Pensions, that's when things started to change.
And that wasn't the only thing that started to change.
Losing his eldest daughter made Ian re-evaluate his life.
He had spent almost ten years working as an administrator
for Staffordshire Police, and he decided it was time to move on.
I've recently changed my job.
I work for the Lymphoma Association, which is something that
I would never have done had it not been for Mel's illness.
Mel used to go on the chat-room on the internet and talk to other people who'd been affected.
She also contacted the helpline as well, and they're just a great help
and were a support to Mel, and they've been a great support to ourselves since Mel died.
-You're now working with them full-time, so you're part of that support group.
-Yes, it's good.
And that's not where the changes end.
I started doing a couple of these charity rides a year.
I'm not a particularly keen cyclist, but it's something that I can do.
I can't run marathons, unfortunately, but I can cycle. So that's what I do.
And it's something that Ian does extremely well.
He has cycled 600 miles for charity and helped raise over £13,000 through bike rides
and other fundraising activities, but much more importantly, he's helped change the law.
I caught up with him to hear all about it.
So Ian, finally, you're a man with something to smile about?
Yeah, certainly. We've had news from the Government that they're making the changes, and it's very positive.
Basically now any student who falls ill with a long-term illness, not just cancer,
but any long-term illness, and they have to suspend their studies for a time, they will get benefits.
And that's nationwide now. You've changed that law.
-You must be an extremely proud man?
-You don't think, "I'm changing the law."
You just think, "This is wrong," you have to do what you can to put it right.
Thankfully, through dogged persistence and emails,
we've done it. Yeah.
-Do you think Mel would be proud?
-Yeah, I do, I'd like to think so.
-What would she say to you now if she could?
-She'd probably say Liverpool will finish higher
than Everton in the league this season and then she'd probably say "Well done, Dad, we did it."
-Yeah. And what would you say to her?
-Yeah, you're probably right!
Ian has experienced something that no parent ever should, the loss of
a child, but he's channelled all his grief into something really
positive and he's made changes now that will affect hundreds of families in this country.
He's shown no signs of slowing down and for one, I hope he never does.
Over in Croydon, the council's fraud team and the UK Border Agency
are hot on the trail of Juliet Ubiribo.
Her housing benefits worth thousands of pounds have been paid directly to her landlord, Mr Neburagho.
But documents accidentally left in the shed when she moved house revealed a secret.
Her landlord might be her husband, Mr Mayomi.
There were false statements, double identities and immigration issues involved.
This couple had to be stopped and financial investigator Zoe was well on the case.
January 2010, we had meetings with the police and the UKBA, and we decided the offences were
sufficiently serious enough for us to take this further, and to visit the house and the business property
at the same time and to arrest both Ubiribo and Mayomi.
We searched the home address in January 2010
and this is some of what we found.
Photocopy of Mayomi's Nigerian passport.
Three of Ubiribo's passports.
A copy of their wedding certificate in Nigeria.
We found immigration applications,
copies of documentation relating to the business.
We've also found a wedding DVD of a marriage blessing that they had in 2006, which was interesting because
at that time she was claiming benefit on the basis she was an unmarried single parent.
-Give you, Nelson, this ring...
-Give you, Nelson, this ring...
-As a sign of our marriage.
-As a sign of our marriage.
-With my body, I honour you.
-With my body, I honour you.
-All that I have, I give to you.
-All that I have, I give to you.
-And all that I have I share with you.
And all that I have I share with you.
They had the evidence, now they had to arrest the couple.
Mr Mayomi wasn't at the house when they started their search, but then their fortunes changed.
A man arrived at the property. He identified himself to the police and to the UKBA as being Mr Mayomi.
He was arrested and taken to Croydon Police Station.
He was asked if he'd ever been in trouble with the police before, and he said no.
And he was telling the truth. No-one with the name of Mr Mayomi had
ever been in trouble with the law, but his alias, Mr Neburagho HAD.
We were aware that possibly he'd already been arrested for drunk driving in the identity of Neburagho.
When they matched the fingerprints they realised yes, he had been arrested as Neburagho,
and we believe that is possibly why he admitted in interview that he was Mr Neburagho, but also Mr Mayomi.
So, the game was finally up for Mr Mayomi and his alias, Mr Neburagho.
The photos may not be identical, but the matching fingerprints removed all doubt.
He WAS Juliet's husband and her landlord.
This confirmed our suspicion that he was the same person, but with two identities.
And Nelson Mayomi had used his second identity to enter the UK illegally.
On the visa application for his visa he said he'd never been in the UK before, but once we found out
the name Neburagho and that there was a British passport, and all of the other evidence
-shows to the fact that he'd been here since the early 90s.
-So, Mr Mayomi was arrested.
One criminal down, one to go.
Juliet Ubiribo was arrested on the same day, also questioned at Croydon Police Station.
She has made false statements claiming to be a single parent,
whereas in reality she was married, she was also married to her landlord which affected her housing benefit
and both Neburagho and Ubiribo have both provided false statements to the council in the way of letters
and documents purporting that they are both separate, that they're not related and that he is her landlord.
Juliet Ubiribo and her husband Nelson Mayomi eventually pleaded
guilty to all the offences they had been charged with,
including benefit fraud and immigration offences.
On 13th August 2010 at Croydon Crown Court, they were told they'd have to repay...
..and THEN they were sentenced.
Mr Mayomi has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
His offences were described by the judge as "cynical, self-centred and self-serving."
Juliet Ubiribo's been sentenced to 18 months in prison, but suspended for two years.
However, she also has to do 200 hours of community work, that's unpaid work.
She's also been tagged which means for four months between the hours of
9pm to 6am she has to stay at home and cannot leave the home premises.
She has been warned if she breaks the condition
of her sentence, she will be back in court and will go to prison.
And it doesn't end there, the UK Border Agency will seek
to remove Mr Mayomi from the country and Zoe's going after the assets.
I'm developing the case further, under the Proceeds of Crime Act
to ensure that they have not benefited from their criminal behaviour.
This will mean eventually they'll have to repay more than the housing benefit overpayment.
They had scammed over £40,000 of taxpayer's money and probably
would have got away with it if it wasn't for that mislaid suitcase.
That one piece of lost luggage cost them big time.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
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.
An abandoned suitcase full of documentation sets off alarm bells in Croydon's fraud office leading investigators to a woman claiming thousands of pounds worth of housing benefit she wasn't entitled to.
And Ian Leech, a loving dad and a devoted football fan, takes on the system when his daughter is diagnosed with cancer.