Two Nigerian men have been jailed following an elaborate scam to steal the identity of a dead British man.
Finest Ifeanyi Arojie, 43, of Old Bedford Road, Luton, illegally entered the UK in 2005. The following year he obtained a copy of the birth certificate of a British man, James Samuel Walters, who died in New York in 1989.
In 2007 Arojie used the birth certificate to obtain a British passport in Mr Walters’ identity, stating that he had lost his previous passport. There was no record of Mr Walters’ death because it occurred outside the UK.
Arojie then used his fake British identity to gain employment as a forklift driver in Dunstable in July 2008. In April 2009 Arojie sponsored the entry to the UK of a man claiming to be his 16-year-old son and calling himself Bright Walters.
The pair lived at Old Bedford Road, and the scam started to unravel in December 2011 when officers from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) interviewed a woman who claimed that she had been approached about taking part in a sham marriage by an African man using the name James Samuel Walters.
Officers discovered Walters was in Nigeria attempting to obtain visas for two children to reside in the UK.
As a result of this investigation, both of these visas were refused.
On December 16, 2011, Arojie, who was travelling using the Walters passport, was stopped by UKBA officers as he arrived at Heathrow Airport.
On January 11, 2012 Bright Walters was arrested at his home address, where officers also found his British passport.
Bright Walters was charged with obtaining leave to enter or remain in the UK by deception and possession of a false identity document and remanded in custody.
Arojie was charged with seven offences including fraud and conspiracy to facilitate a breach of the UK’s immigration laws.
Officers continued to investigate the scam and, following enquiries with UKBA officers in Nigeria, became convinced that Bright Walters’ real identity was Goodness Iroro Sokoh and that his true age was 24. Walters disputes this.
Arojie and Walters were convicted on June 1 following a week-long trial at Luton Crown Court. On Friday Arojie was sentenced to two years and eight months while Walters was jailed for 12 months.
A 31-year-old woman who was charged with fraud, possession of a false identity document, facilitating entry of illegal entrants to the UK and obtaining leave to enter or remain in the UK by deception was acquitted at the end of the trial.
The UKBA will work to deport the fraudsters after they have served their sentences.
Ian Williams, from the UK Border Agency, said: “Finest Arojie coldly took on the identity of a deceased British citizen to live and work illegally in the UK and to illicitly bring another man into the country.
“His callous crime showed no respect to the late Mr Walters or his family. It was a cruel act motivated by pure self-interest and I am pleased that we have been able to bring him before the courts.”
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