Southern Rail workers jailed over £100,000 'Delay Repay' compensation fraud

Tom Powell
Jailed: Ringleader Abiodun Bamidele worked for Southern Rail: British Transport Police

Two former Southern Rail workers have been jailed for their part in a major fraud scheme which saw £100,000 worth of false compensation claims made for delayed trains.

Ringleader Abiodun Bamidele and his friend Jeffrey Opoku, who both live in London, were jailed for four years and two years respectively at Blackfriars Crown Court.

The pair, along with Elizabeth Howell and George Wangboje, carried out their crimes over five years, beginning in February 2010.

They exploited train operators’ ‘Delay Repay’ compensation schemes which were established to compensate honest fare-paying passengers who have suffered delays.

Led by Bamidele, the group used more than 120 names and over 60 addresses to submit bogus claims for delayed trains which they hadn’t been on.

Jeffrey Opoku was jailed for his part in the five-year fraud (British Transport Police)

They used fake receipts, forged bank statements and fraudulently-produced rail tickets to hoodwink operators.

Transport police revealed that Bamidele, 54, and Opoku, 55, called each other names such as “Mr Great Western Train Robber” and “Mr Hull Trains” as they joked about their crimes.

But they were eventually identified due to the number of claims being filed using the same handwriting, which forensics analysis showed to be Bamidele’s.

All four were arrested in April 2015 but were not convicted until the end of a four-week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court which began in February this year.

They made 350 claims in total, amounting to £98,000 in value. Of these, 171 were paid out, amounting to £54,922.

One of the many fraudulent claim letters the group sent (British Transport Police)

The court heard how on one occasion Bamidele contacted Howell and informed her of a delayed train from Glasgow that would get him in excess of £500. She immediately responded: “Hehehe na mi na want diamond ring!”

Howell, 46, of Coventry, was handed a nine-month jail sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to undertake 120 hours of unpaid work.

Wangboje, 58, of Essex, was given a 15-month sentence suspended for two years and 200 hours of unpaid work.

Southern's Fare Evasion Manager, Julia Burgess told the Standard: "We welcome genuine claims for delays to journeys of 15 minutes or more. However, this case demonstrates that if you abuse a scheme to compensate rail passengers who are delayed, it will be treated as serious fraud and you will be prosecuted.

“GTR worked closely with BTP on this case, and will continue to highlight to them those cases where we believe that fraudulent claims are being made."

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