Rogue publisher gang jailed for attempted £478K NHS fraud

Posted: October 15, 2013 in Law & Disorder, NHS WATCH

A Warwickshire gang that attempted to defraud NHS Trusts by invoicing them for adverts in non-existent publications has been jailed for a total of 18½ years following an investigation by Warwickshire Police and NHS Protect.
Dean Haer (28), Momonu Ajibade (31), Lee McColl (27), Warwick Kirkwood (29), and Sharon Downes (35) – all of Leamington Spa – were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud at Birmingham Crown Court on 27th June 2013. Kulbinder Rai (34) will be sentenced at a later date. The gang attempted to defraud public bodies of £1.8m, of which £478K was attempted fraud against the NHS.

Sentences dished out: Dean HAER (5½ years), Momunu AJIBADE (5½ years), Lee MCCOLL (2½ years), Warwick KIRKWOOD (2½ years) and Sharon DOWNES (2½ years) were all found guilty of conspiracy to defraud in relation to the mis-selling of advertising. What’s with the fixation on halves?

jg34WKSEe5b6tIzBUCmFbzEWp4fThe gang operated by contacting NHS Trusts who were advertising vacancies in health magazines and journals. Gang members would pose as employees of bogus publications, which had names similar to genuine publications, and attempt to obtain signed orders reproducing the adverts in their own publications. Forms that requested a signature to approve the advert’s content were faxed to NHS Trusts – but these were in fact booking forms. Once signed and returned, NHS Trusts would receive an invoice demanding payment. How come NHS bureaucrats didn’t read the small print and spot the ‘bumf’ were booking forms. The bogus publications included titles such as ’Best Medical Jobs’, ‘Hospital Sector Jobs’ and ’Nursing Tomorrow’.

NHS Protect received information on these activities and so alerted NHS Trusts to the threat posed by the gang and issued fraud prevention ‘toolkits’ to local counter fraud specialists; this played a significant part in preventing thousands of pounds worth of fraud. NHS Protect investigators were then able to piece together the extent of the gang’s activities, the value of the fraud and the number of NHS Trusts targeted.

NHS Protect obtained over 100 witness statements from NHS Trusts across the country that had been contacted by the gang. These statements covered more than 200 attempts by the gang to try and defraud NHS Trusts by false representation. This evidence was passed to Warwickshire Police who then charged the defendants with conspiracy to defraud in relation to the mis-selling of advertising.

To report any incident of suspected fraud in the NHS, please get on the ‘dog and bone ‘phone’ and call the Fraud and Corruption Reporting Line on 0800 028 40 60 or report online at http://www.reportnhsfraud.nhs.uk

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