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Islington Tribune - by MARK BLUNDEN
Published: 10 August 2007
Oriyomi Williams and Tunde Williams
Oriyomi Williams and Tunde Williams
Hunt for £2m as couple are jailed

Cash from 'professional, industrial benefits fraud' believed to be in Nigerian banks

INVESTIGATORS are hoping to claw back up to £2 million secreted away in Nigerian bank accounts by a couple of benefit fraudsters.
Oriyomi Williams, 40, and her husband Tunde, 49, of Wheeler Gardens, King’s Cross, were jailed on Friday for masterminding a 12-year scam using the names of 23 dead children.
At Wood Green Crown Court, Judge Shaun Lyons called it “a long-lasting, professional, industrial fraud”.
Mrs Williams admitted frauds worth £447,000 – the figure for her husband was £135,000 – but investigators are looking for up to £2 million.
She was jailed for four-and-a-half years and her husband for three-and-a-half years. They have already served 13 months on remand.
Speaking after the couple were sentenced, Gavin Heaton, who led the probe for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), said it was already trying to retrieve the money. The DWP, which suffered the biggest loss, is liaising with Nigerian authorities.
It is believed hundreds of thousands of pounds have been hidden away. The money may have been laundered through a wig-making company owned by the Williamses.
As first revealed in the Tribune last week, their scam used the same technique – assuming the identities of dead children – as that relied on by the hitman in Frederick Forsyth’s 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal.
The Williamses claim­ed money in benefits for hundreds of fake offspring supposedly born to each of the dead children. Names of the living were also “hijacked” by the couple.
They claimed tax credits, job seekers’ allowance and housing benefit from the DWP, Islington Council and the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hammersmith and Fulham.
The information was used to rent and buy Islington Council flats in Wheeler Gardens and Highcroft Road, Archway.
At various addresses, investigators found an Aladdin’s cave of identity information, including driving licences, bank drafts and debit cards.
Nigerian birth certificates, with the names left blank, were found at Highcroft Road.
When Tunde Williams was arrested during his wife’s committal hearing at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court, police found £10,000 worth of cash receipts in his pocket.
Anuja Dhir, defending Mrs Williams, said the mother-of-three did not know the fake identities “related to dead people”.
Ms Dhir said: “This is a woman who is truly sorry for what she has done.” She was said to have written “I am so sorry Your Honour, please forgive me” 36 times on 286 pages of prison paper.
The court heard that Mr Williams worked as an aircraft mechanic in Nigeria until he was burned by acid.
He came to the UK in 1995, where his wife was already resident. It was accepted she was the driving force behind the fraud.
The Williamses admitted 51 charges, including 41 of false accounting and six of the acquisition of criminal property.
Judge Lyons said: “These crimes are not victimless. The identities in these cases are of deceased people. A deeply distasteful, and quite possible hurtful, process for the relatives to find out about it.”
Mrs Williams sobbed throughout the hour-long sentencing while her husband sat impassively.
On hearing the length of her jail term, she threw herself under a bench in the dock and the court had to be cleared.

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