Group jailed for 47 years after £450,000 maternity payment scam

|News, Fraud and economic crime

Twelve people who plotted to claim more than £450,000 in maternity payments for babies which did not exist have been jailed for 47 years today (18 July).

The defendants, who included members of the same family and their partners and friends, made at least 158 fraudulent applications for maternity allowance over the course of 52 months.

False maternity allowance claims, usually in the names of third parties, were submitted to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The claim form required a maternity certificate to be completed and submitted.

The defendants produced forged certificates by falsifying GP stamps on them. One of the defendants, Clemence Marijeni, 42, admitted to creating many such documents. The money was then paid into a nominated bank account in the defendants’ names, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

The court also heard how one man, who left the country before being charged, controlled a substantial number of the bank accounts into which the fraudulent payments were made.

Most of the group were from the West Midlands including Marijeni. Others were based in Peterborough and Norwich.

Gurminder Sanghera, from the CPS, said: “These defendants set up an expert operation to create false documents and falsely stamp them to ensure they were accepted by the DWP. As a result of their actions, there has been a loss to the taxpayer of £450,000 in false payments.

“Many of the defendants denied knowing about the fraud, or that their bank accounts were used. Evidence put forward by the CPS showed they each played an integral part of the scheme and ultimately the jury has found them guilty.”

Notes to editors

  • Gurminder Sanghera is a Specialist Prosecutor in the Specialist Fraud Division at the Crown Prosecution Service.
  • The defendants are:
    • Clemence Marijeni (DOB 15/08/1973). Marijeni was sentenced to seven years in prison.
    • Poula Chikuhwa (DOB 20/03/1991). Chikuhwa was sentenced to three years in prison.
    • Liberty Masunda (DOB 23/03/1975). Masunda was sentenced to three years in prison.
    • Tinashe Sagomba (DOB 03/05/1980). Sagomba was sentenced to five years in prison.
    • Toad Tagarira (DOB 25/06/1968). Tagarira was sentenced to four years in prison.
    • Kudakwashe Mhembere (DOB: 12/01/1981). Mhembere was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
    • Faith Mavis Tagarira (DOB 12/07/1977). Tagarira was sentenced to 22 months in prison, suspended for two years. Tagarira was also ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £3,000 in costs.
    • Tiwone Dowoke (DOB 23/11/1981). Dokowe was sentenced to six years in prison.
    • Walasungu Ngwira (DOB 17/06/1979). Ngwira was sentenced to six years in prison.
    • Patience Kanjira (DOB 17/09/1998). Kanjira was sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for two years. Kanjira was also ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £3,000 in costs.
    • Casper Mawoko (DOB 17/06/1982). Mawoko was sentenced to four years in prison.
    • Tapiwa Madziwa (DOB 20/01/1981). Madziwa was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiracy to defraud and a further six months for absconding at the start of the trial. 
  • Each denied conspiracy to defraud but were convicted by a jury.
  • Madziwa was based in Peterborough, Sagomba in Norwich and the rest of the defendants were based in the West Midlands.

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