Published: 19:38, 05 November 2019
| Updated: 14:10, 06 November 2019
An immigration fraudster has been jailed for a scam based on falsely registering a British man as the father of his child.
Olutobi Ogunbawo - of Range Road in Gravesend - plotted with his partner Maria Adesanya, both Nigerian nationals, to pay British citizen Adekunle Adeparusi to register himself as the father of their child.
The pair believed this would enable both mother and child to dishonestly claim a right to live in the UK.
Ogunbawo, who was in Nigeria at the time the plan was concocted, is in reality the child’s father.
Facebook messages between Ogunbawo, 38, and Adesanya, 31, revealed the pair formulated the plan when she was pregnant - shortly after she entered the UK on a visit visa in October 2013.
In the messages, Ogunbawo talks of “making a plan abt (sic) my baby” and discussed the cost of “securing (the child’s) stay” - which he stated was £3,000.
The child was born in December 2013, and Adeparusi - of Mulberry Road in Gravesend - falsely registered himself as the father in January 2014.
Adesanya, of Cateaton Street, Bury, obtained a British passport for the child based on this lie.
She then applied for a right to remain in the UK - claiming she was the sole carer for her daughter. But this application was refused by an immigration judge at a tribunal.
Ogunbawo overstayed his visit visa after entering the UK in December 2015 and text messages showed he never intended to return to Nigeria.
After he arrived in the UK, he began to work illegally using false references and a fake biometric residence permit.
He was also charged separately with obtaining leave to remain by deception after lying about his personal circumstances in Nigeria on his visa application.
"Ogunbawo, working with Adesanya and Adeparusi, was shown to have concocted a series of lies to try and cheat the UK’s immigration system..." - Tony Hilton, Immigration Enforcement
Investigators became suspicious of Adesanya in April 2015 when they noticed she had been working illegally in care homes in late 2014.
They discovered she was in Nigeria at the point her child was conceived and the claimed father, Adeparusi, was in Kent.
A DNA test later confirmed he was not the father of the child.
Financial records showed that Adesanya transferred more than £1,000 to Mr Adeparusi the day before the pair registered the birth of the child.
Adeparusi later fraudulently claimed child tax credits by claiming to be the primary carer for the child, who actually lived in Manchester with her mother while he lived in Kent.
Ogunbawo was found guilty of assisting illegal migration and obtaining leave to remain by deception.
He had previously pleaded guilty to possession of a false document with intent and fraud by false representation. In total, he was jailed for three years.
Adesanya, had pleaded guilty to the same charges at an earlier hearing, as well as possession of an identity document with improper intention and three counts of fraud in relation to the illegal working. She received an 18 month sentence.
Tony Hilton from Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigations said: “Ogunbawo, working with Adesanya and Adeparusi, was shown to have concocted a series of lies to try and cheat the UK’s immigration system.
“Ogunbawo saw an opportunity with Adesanya’s pregnancy and messages between the pair exposed the planning that went into the offence."