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Fake identities makes couple thousands

A couple used fake passports and national insurance numbers to earn £39,000 while claiming £8,500 in benefits.

Sandra Arroyave-Calle, 34, and her husband Abelardo Gomez-Valasquez, 50, of 138-142 North End, Croydon, took a number of jobs using false identities and opened bank accounts with the same fraudulent details.

Officers from Croydon Council, the Department of Work and Pensions, Borders and Immigration department and the police searched the couples’ home and found a number of false passports and identity cards.

The two pleaded guilty to 18 offences and were sentenced at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The court heard how the couple, originally from Columbia, were refused asylum when they came to the UK in December 2004. They remained in the country until their successful appeal was heard in October 2006.

The court was told that from November 2005 the accused had taken a number of jobs, using false identities and national insurance numbers, earning them around £39,000 Once they were given leave to remain in the UK, they fraudulently claimed more than £8,500 in income support and housing benefit.

Passing sentence, Judge Kenneth Macrae said he could easily justify a considerable prison sentence but having considered medical reports he sentenced the couple to 12 months, suspended for two years.

Judge Macrae told the couple that they should be grateful to the UK for granting them asylum and that he was puzzled as to why they needed to continue working with false identities when they had been given permission to work having been granted asylum.

He concluded that the only reasonable explanation was a deliberate act on their part to avoid being ‘found out’ for claiming benefits at the same time as working.

Although he did not award costs against the couple, he said they had a duty to ‘give something back to the community’ and ordered that each complete 250 hours community service, with the condition that if either missed one day they would be jailed.

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