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10 May 2014

llegal immigrant claimed £26,000 in benefits after being told to leave the UK

A Kenyan fraudster living in Birmingham stole more than £26,000 in benefits – after being denied permission to stay in the UK, reports the Birmingham Mail. (h/t Dave)

Lucy Mbugua had already been ordered to leave the country when she launched the four-year scam. Then – after being charged over her crimes - she stayed in the UK.

The 40-year-old mother was convicted of three offences of dishonestly claiming taxpayers’ cash while having no right to remain in the UK.

She was found guilty in her absence and also failed to turn up to be sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court. A warrant was issued for Mbugua’s arrest – but the Mail tracked her down to her home in Westminster Road, Selly Oak, before police caught up with her. She told our reporter that she failed to attend court because of childcare issues, but would not comment further on the case.

Her convictions were welcomed by Birmingham City Council. But the Home Office refused to explain how Mbugua was allowed to remain in the UK to commit the crimes despite having exhausted all her legal appeal options.

Magistrates heard she fraudulently claimed £24,479,09 in housing benefit and £1,829.48 in council tax benefit between September 17, 2009 and August 13, 2013.

But the court was told she was not granted permission to stay in the country until last December. She secured the three-year visa on the grounds of having a right to a family life.

Joe Millington, prosecuting, said Mbugua ticked a box on a claim form to make it appear she had the right to live in the UK. The Mail understood that she lawfully entered the country on a visa but exhausted all appeals to stay in 2009, after claiming to be a victim of domestic abuse.

Her crimes were detected through the use of data matching methods, which see council fraud investigators trawl through information shared by other government departments.

Magistrates found Mbugua guilty in her absence on April 11. The court received a letter during that hearing to say she had childcare problems. The case was adjourned for sentencing but Mbugua failed to attend for the second time last Friday and the arrest warrant was issued.

The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases. Council deputy leader Coun Ian Ward said:
Given the pressures we face as a result of central government funding cuts, it is essential we ensure every penny goes to those with a rightful claim. I hope this conviction sends out a clear message that we will pursue those who set out to defraud the system.
The message surely is that Britain's justice system is rickety.

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