14 Oct 2013

Nigerian illegal immigrant jailed for benefit fraud

A Nigerian illegal immigrant who claimed £83,000 in benefits has been jailed for 15 months. (h/t Dave).

Ingrid Coipel, 38, from Dagenham, claimed job seekers allowance, tax credits, housing benefit, child benefits and council tax benefits for six years up to 2012.

The mother of-two came to Britain on a false passport in 2005 before procuring herself a counterfeit French passport to use in the UK. It was not long before she had started claiming huge benefits.

Coipel got £43,622 from the London borough of Barking and Dagenham in housing and council tax benefits from 2008-2012. From February 2010 to March 2012, she claimed £7,457 in job seekers allowance.

She was quick to start having children too. By 2006 she was claiming child benefit and started a second claim in 2009 following the birth of her daughter.

Finally, she applied for tax credits between 2008 and 2013 and was given £23,911.

All these claims were made using her fake French passport as a way of supporting her representations. Judge Simon Wilkinson told her:
These were serious frauds.

They began as long ago as November 2006 and at that time you were in fact an illegal immigrant from Nigeria. You had entered the UK in 2005 on false documentation and since November 2006 you have obtained benefits to which you are not entitled. Those benefits included housing and council tax benefits, job seekers allowance and child benefits. You pretended to be a French citizen and to that end produced a counterfeit passport.

I take into account the fact that since June 2011 you have been granted limited right to remain in the UK by the home office though you still continued to claim fraudulently as a French citizen. This was an opportunity for you to regularise your position and no doubt you thought to disclose your change or status would reveal your earlier fraudulent conduct.
Her six and three year old children are likely to be taken in to care while their mother is in prison as she has no family in the UK.

Coipel's story is that her house in Nigeria was burnt down and she fled to the country as a political refugee seeking asylum.

She was also sentenced last September to six months suspended for a year for possession of a false passport.

Both her previous and latest conviction were uncovered after she applied for a job at the Olympic Park and when she tried to use her fake French passport she was found out and questioned. She pleaded guilty to nine counts of making a false statement, four counts of using a false instrument and a single count of being fraudulently concerned in fraudulent activity.

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