A serial fraudster who conned the taxman out of £25,000 by creating two imaginary children complete with bogus birth certificates and school letters was jailed for 30 months.
Afamefuna Ilene, 44, claimed his son and daughter were living with him in his single bedroom flat in Battersea, south London, after their mother fell ill in Nigeria.
He invented a son named Olabode Hycinth Ilene born in 1994, and a daughter named Chiyene Amaka Janet Ilene born in 1999.
Ilene produced two birth certificates from a Lagos hospital, then created school places for them by doctoring admissions letters from a local academy and a college.
He also photoshopped an optician’s letter for the younger child, and managed to claim an extra £65 per week to cover his child care costs.
In total he pocketed £25,626.12 in tax credits between May 2013 and March 2015.
Prosecutor Wendy Hewitt told the Old Bailey it was still unclear as to whether the two children were entirely made up or based on relatives still living in Lagos.
Ilene was jailed for 30 months after admitting two counts of knowingly being concerned in the fraudulent payment of tax credits.
Judge Stephen Kramer QC told him: ‘From what I have heard you are a practiced fraudster, although not perhaps particularly successful in the end.’
Ilene is already serving a 54-month prison sentence passed in November 2014 for orchestrating a £32,000 VAT fraud by claiming to be trading low value jewellery under the name ‘Onefashionavenue’.
He applied for VAT refunds on the nonexistent goods by photoshopping his bank statements and creating fraudulent invoices to make it look like he was buying stock.
The conman has another conviction for fraud dating back to 2010 where he tried to defraud HMRC out of £600,000 in a similar VAT fraud.
Hugh O’Donaghue, for Ilene, said: ‘The amount of money was not to be sneezed at but all the same it was not a large amount of benefit.
‘He’s 44 and he has a life in front of him – he’s a skilled IT worker who makes his own software and he tells me that on his release from prison he can go back and resume his employment.
‘He’s asked me to let the court know that he is very sorry for what he has done and very remorseful.’
Following his jail sentence in 2014, Anthony Swarbrick, the assistant director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service said: ‘Ilene is a serial fraudster who time and again has failed to learn that crime does not pay.
‘He pretended to operate a legitimate business to steal money from the UK taxpayer which should be spent on vital public services.His criminal behaviour is totally unacceptable and he will continue to be under our watch to prevent any further criminal actions.’
Ilene, formerly of Stanmer Street, Battersea, southwest London, admitted two counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent payment of tax credits.
He denied a third count of making or supplying articles for use in fraud relating to the photoshopped letters, and the charge was left to lie on file.