Student faked ID and invented children's identities to defraud NHS of £88,000

Woman who defrauded NHS of £88,000 by faking her identity is given a suspended prison sentence.

A woman who defrauded the NHS of £88,000 by faking her identity to gain three nursing student places has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Eleanor Bonde produced false documents and 'invented' two dependent children in the 11-year fraud, during which she obtained NHS course fees and bursary payments.

Bonde, who used three fake Zimbabwean birth certificates in the deception beginning in 2001, gained places on nursing degree courses at the University of Surrey, the University of Brighton and Anglia Ruskin University.

Money diverted from patients

NHS Protect, which tackles fraud in the health service, said the total loss to the NHS was £88,804 – enough to pay the salaries of four newly qualified nurses.

NHS Protect managing director and interim chief executive of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority Sue Frith said: ‘Fraud against the NHS takes valuable resources out of the system, ultimately diverting money from patient care.

‘In this case, a lot of public money has gone to waste to train and support someone who was well aware she was not eligible for the courses, the course funding or the bursaries. The NHS can ill afford to be exploited in this way.’

Guilty plea

Bonde, 57, of Redhill, Surrey, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud in her trial in June.

She applied for three nursing degree places and used false documents for enrolment at Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Brighton – but failed all courses part way through and so did not qualify as a nurse.

Between April 2004 and February 2007, Bonde obtained £21,850 in course fees and bursary payments from the NHS by deception.

Despite a direct question in her University of Brighton application form, she failed to disclose she had previously attended part of a publicly funded nursing diploma course at the University of Surrey.

False birth certificates

Bonde knowingly used three false Zimbabwean birth certificates to deceive staff of the then East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA). Her false representations to staff, passing off forged documents as genuine, allowed her to qualify for NHS-funded course fees and bursary payments for herself and two non-existent dependent children.

NHS Protect launched its investigation, led by senior fraud investigator Alex Tan, after the UK Borders Agency was asked by a university to check the authenticity of Bonde’s documentation, leading to the discovery of the deception.

A judge at Guildford Crown Court sentenced Bonde to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years.

A notice was served requiring Bonde to provide details of all her assets, for NHS Protect to seek recovery of the defrauded money.

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