Fraudster stumped: Indian cricket coach identity thief busted after victim told he had already had Covid jab

Harshil Patel. Credit:  SWNSHarshil Patel. Credit:  SWNS
Harshil Patel. Credit: SWNS | SWNS
Harshil Patel, 30, got married and obtained bank cards and a driving licence in the name of his wholly innocent victim Melvin Dias.

An Indian cricket coach who stole another man’s identity to stay in the UK was only discovered when the real man went to get his Covid jab and was told he had already had it.

Harshil Patel, 30, got married and obtained bank cards and a driving licence in the name of his wholly innocent victim Melvin Dias.

He was jailed for three years at Isleworth Crown Court.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It emerged that Patel, of Hounslow, had overstayed his visa by seven years before he stole Mr Dias’s details.

The “talented cricketer”, who arrived in Britain 12 years ago on a student visa which was valid until 2012, made £23,000 working for Tesco and Ladbrokes in his victim’s name over the 20-month period in which he had his identity.

Patel was finally caught when the real Mr Dias tried to book a coronavirus jab in May this year ... only to be told someone had already had one in his name.

James O’Connell, prosecuting, said: “He was refused a vaccine because the computer system said someone else using his identity had already been vaccinated.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“He made enquiries and found an email address linked to his identity was being used which was not his.

“He went to his GP for help, and it was soon found the person using the documents appeared to be this defendant.

Isleworth Crown Court heard Patel decided to try and “regularise” his immigration status after inheriting money from the family home in Gujarat, India, in 2019.

It was claimed he may have paid up to £65,000 for the false papers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The computer science and electrical engineering graduate had been an occasional cricket coach and moved between causal jobs while living in Britain.

Mr Dias, 31, arrived in Britain from Goa, India, four years ago but has leave to remain as his wife is Portuguese.

He first became worried in August last year when he applied for a Portuguese citizen card, but had it refused because he was told one was already in use.

He had to send all his documents to Portugal and get a lawyer, but only became sure he had fallen victim to fraud after struggling to book a jab.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After finding that out he confronted Patel at his home in Hounslow, but was initially told he was lying, and the defendant claimed he was the victim.

Mr Dias told how the fraud left him with depression and it took him six months to get Universal Credit, as it took him so long to prove his identity.

He told the court: “This has had a massive impact on me and my mental health.

“I have been left feeling depressed. It took me six months to prove who I was so I could get Universal Credit.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I have been feeling very stressed, have had trouble sleeping due to the worry and felt I was not getting enough help and thought I was never going to be able to resolve the issue.

“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.”

Mr O’Connell added: “It is rare that such fraudulent activities have such a clear, obvious and visible impact on the person who has had their identity stolen.

“Here was someone trying to get on with his life, but he was thwarted by the defendant who had assumed a false identity.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Patel, who had no previous convictions, admitted fraud by false representation and using false identity documents when he appeared at Isleworth Crown Court.

Sunjay Versani, in mitigation, said: “He is very remorseful and has a lot of empathy for his victim.

“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.

“When it expired, he overstayed for seven years, living under the radar coaching cricket and working.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“In 2019, a friend came to him after he inherited money from the family home in India and told him he could regularise his affairs in the UK.

“He had built up a life here with his partner and the offer seemed too good to turn down and he did not understand the havoc his actions would wreak on a real victim.”

Jailing Patel for three years last week, Recorder Simon Russell-Flint QC told him: “When your victim confronted you, you pretended you were the real victim and denied your offending.

“I hope this case exposes the reality of identity theft, as this was serious criminality.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The impact on your victim’s mental health and wellbeing was high and it had a serious detrimental impact on him.

“This was sophisticated offending for financial gain, but the real impact is the suffering you caused to your victim.

“You are talented cricketer, but you overstayed your visa by nine years. You have deceived others by gaining false identity documents and have let down your wife.”

Related topics: