|27-10-2008, 11:18 PM||#1|
PA to SammyBeeBurns
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Woman's shock when she was sent a duplicate passport... that came with a photograph o
She hasn't so much as been to Africa on holiday. But British-born Catherine Machala Bennett could face deportation to Ghana after falling victim to a nightmarish case of identity fraud.
It was bad enough when she learned that an illegal immigrant had been using a duplicate copy of her passport to live in this country.
The real Mrs Bennett duly informed police about the scam and the imposter was jailed for fraud and told she would be sent back to her homeland on her release.
Farcically, however, the woman refused to give her real name and was jailed under her illegally assumed one - and that was where Mrs Bennett's problems really began
Months later, she had to undergo a criminal records check for a new job and was told to her horror that she was currently in prison for stealing her own identity.
Now she has been told the only way of confirming she is the one and only Catherine Machala Bennett is to have her fingerprints checked - even though she has never committed a crime.
'It's been a complete nightmare,' she said.
'Not only could I end up losing my job because of this, but I've got visions of getting a knock on the door and being told I'm to be deported to Ghana.
'I've tried everything I can to clear my name, but as far as the authorities are concerned we are both the same person.'
The real Mrs Bennett, who is 36 and lives in Oldham, first realised something was amiss last year when she was informed her medical records were being sent to a surgery in her new home town of Slough, in Berkshire.
'I told them they'd got it wrong and they sent me a copy of my passport, but with a black woman's photograph on it instead of me which had been used to register with.'
Mrs Bennett - who was born in Stirling in Scotland - said a passport that she applied for nearly ten years ago failed to arrive so she was sent a replacement. And she now suspects the first one fell into the wrong hands.
She informed police and the imposter was arrested, appearing in court earlier this year where she admitted possessing an improperly obtained identification document.
The woman - a cleaner and mother-of-three - was jailed for 15 months and told she would be deported to her native Ghana on her release.
However, she refused to give her real identity, meaning the conviction was recorded under Catherine Machala Bennett with her date of birth.
The real Mrs Bennett was assured it wouldn't cause a problem, but when she applied for a job as a security guard, the compulsory check with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) saw her branded a convicted fraudster.
She and her husband Peter, a lorry driver, have complained, but so far the only response is that she needs to go to a police station and have her fingerprints taken.
'I feel like I'm the one being treated like a criminal when really I'm a victim of crime,'she said.
'I've never had to give my fingerprints before and I feel it's a real invasion of my privacy.
'All I want to do is get my own identity back and get on with my life, but no-one can tell me how I can get out of this trap.
'Now I'm worried that the woman who stole my name will have committed benefit fraud or some other crime, which will make matters even worse.'
Earlier this year the Daily Mail told how Amanda Hodgson was wrongly branded a drug-dealing alcoholic with convictions for assaulting three police officers when she was CRB checked for a job at the primary school her three children attend.
The CRB says 99.98 per cent of checks are accurate and that requesting fingerprints was a last resort if other investigations failed.
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|29-10-2008, 12:49 AM||#2|
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That's terrible. No one needs that. Even when you're careful with your private information, it can still fall into the wrong hands. Crooks have developed a lot of new methods involving little cameras to take pictures of your account numbers when you're at an ATM. I saw a special on the news.
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