There’s identity theft, and there’s identity theft. In a story that would have got the Daily Mail salivating, a man who’s actual identity is still unknown (although he introduced himself to his wife, who was unaware of the deception, as Steven Douglas) was convicted by a jury of various offences relating to false documents and fraud on 24th November 2014.
It is a bizarre story. Mr Douglas (as we shall call him) created a false identity off the back of a real person – David Onamade a Londoner, and used this to get a National Insurance Number. He then got a job as the Director of the ‘Somerset Racial Equality Council’.
He presumably did a good job of it, as there were no complaints or doubts raised during his nine year tenure. It all unravelled last year however when the Charity shut down (it doesn’t seem to relate to any mismanagement by Mr Douglas).
After that, Mr Douglas claimed Job Seeker’s Allowance. The Job Centre then seemingly put two and two together and realised that there were two people using the same number. This would then have lead to investigations which showed that only one person was the real Mr Onamade.
We don’t have the sentencing remarks, but Mr Douglas got a 9 month sentence. Having spent 13 months on remand, this has already been served. It may be, as the Judge noted, that the UKBA take an interest, but that is the end of the criminal proceedings.
This would instinctively be governed by the Fraud Sentencing Guidelines. The difficulty here is that we don’t know the amount of money involved.
We do know, however, that for cases of using false identification cards by people who are not lawfully in the country the sentence after a plea of guilty is 12-18 months if it is used to come into the country (Kolawole  EWCA Crim 3047) or 6-12 months if it is used ‘in country’ (Ovieriakhi  EWCA Crim 452).
It seems here that Mr Douglas/Onamade/John Doe is not lawfully in the UK. In light of that, we would have expected a starting point after a trial of least 12 to 18 months for the false documents alone. Given the lengthy period of the fraud, the use of someone else’s identity and the fraud, we would have expected a sentence of at least 2 years, if not more.
For that reason, unless there are circumstances of which we’re unaware (always possible when going off news reports) this is an extremely lenient sentence. It’s not impossible that we will see an AG Reference.