A Zimbabwean who took part in a “sophisticated” fraud on the NHS in Birmingham, which was duped out of £140,000, has been jailed for 18 months.
It was likely someone inside the Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust found out about a weakness in its accounting system and exploited it, the city’s crown court heard.
Tendai Tsopotsa’s involvement, which was spread over a three-month period, only came to an end when bogus invoices were rejected.
Tsopotsa, 27, of Wakeman Drive, Tividale, Oldbury, had previously admitted nine charges of acquiring criminal property.
Jailing him, Judge Melbourne Inman QC said: “I accept significant amounts of money went to others, who initiated and orchestrated this fraud. It was nevertheless a determined fraud which involved significant amounts of money.”
Marcus Nyamaropa, 27, of Peel Close, Foleshill, Coventry, who had been found guilty following a trial of two similar charges, was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work and pay £3,000 compensation.
Baljit Chahal, 41, of Grassmere Crescent, Derby, who had pleaded guilty to three charges of acquiring criminal property, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment suspended for a year, ordered to 100 hours unpaid work and pay 3,000 compensation.
Nicholas Cartwright, prosecuting, said invoices were sent to the accounting department for advertising work which had never been done.
When proof for the work was asked for, facsimiles with forged signatures were sent to the department from fax machines in Washwood Heath and Chelmsley Wood.
The accounts department would pay out the monies without making any further inquiries.
Mr Cartwright said the defendants had allowed cash from the scam to be siphoned off using their bank accounts.
When questioned by police, Chahal, who ran a business called One Stop Solutions, said he believed he was being recruited for a VAT fraud and that he had received about £1,000 of the money that had gone through his account.
Johnathan Challinor, for Tsopotsa, said, at a time when his marriage had broken down and he was having financial difficulty, he met a fellow Zimbabwean who offered him work as an administrative assistant.
He said initially he believed the employment was legal, but became aware that it was fraudulent, but persisted, receiving about £500 a week.
Andrew Smith, for Nyamaropa, who had served as a soldier in the Army and had resigned, said he had only been involved in the scam for a limited period.