"it really became clear he had fallen victim"
Harshil Patel, aged 30, of Hounslow, was jailed for three years after he stole another man’s identity to stay in the UK.
He got married, obtained bank cards and a driving licence in the name of Melvin Dias.
It was revealed that the Indian national had overstayed his visa by seven years before he stole Mr Dias’ details.
Patel arrived in Britain 12 years ago on a student visa. He remained in the UK even though his visa expired in 2012.
Over a 20-month period in which he had Mr Dias’ details, Patel made £23,000 working for Tesco and Ladbrokes.
While living in the UK, Patel was an occasional cricket coach and moved between casual jobs.
Isleworth Crown Court heard that Patel decided to try and “regularise” his immigration status after inheriting money from his family home in Gujarat in 2019, allegedly paying up to £65,000 for false documents.
Mr Dias arrived in the UK from Goa in 2017 but was granted leave to remain because his wife is Portuguese.
He first became worried in August 2020 when he applied for a Portuguese citizen card, but he was refused because he was told one was already in use.
Mr Dias sent all his documents to Portugal and had to get a lawyer.
He became certain he was a victim of fraud when he struggled to book a Covid-19 vaccine.
The victim then confronted Patel at his home. However, he was initially told he was lying. Patel also claimed that he was the victim.
Mr Dias said the fraud left him with depression as he was unable to obtain Universal Credit for six months because of struggles to prove his identity.
He told the court: “I locked myself in my room and stayed away from everyone as I was so stressed, I never thought I would ever get a job or income to look after myself.”
James O’Connell, prosecuting, said:
“The victim, in this case, is a 31-year-old man called Melvin Dias, who arrived in the UK from Goa in India in 2017 and was granted leave to remain in 2017, because he was married to a Portuguese person at the time and Portugal and Britain were both EU members.
“In August 2020 he applied for a Portuguese citizen card which was refused, as he was told a card had already been issued and was in use.
“Then in May 2021 he applied for a coronavirus vaccine through the NHS, and it was at this point it really became clear he had fallen victim to identity fraud.
“He went to his GP for help, and it was soon found the person using the documents appeared to be this defendant.”
Patel, who has no previous convictions, admitted fraud by false representation and using false identity documents.
Sunjay Versani, mitigating, said:
“He is very remorseful and has a lot of empathy for his victim.
“He comes from a humble background in Gujarat and always dreamed of becoming a professional cricketer.
“He came to the UK in 2009 and studied computer science and electrical engineering on a student visa but was left unable to work or fund his education.”
Recorder Simon Russell-Flint QC said:
“I hope this case exposes the reality of identity theft, as this was serious criminality.”
“You told the probation service you were prepared to pay £65,000 to obtain the identity.
“You purchased another man’s identity and purchased a false life based on that. You obtained employment in his name and used his name to get married.
“This was sophisticated offending for financial gain, but the real impact is the suffering you caused to your victim.”
Harshil Patel was sentenced to three years in prison.