EXCLUSIVE: by Tom Marshall
Thursday, June 5, 2014
One of the UK’s worst ever con artists may have used links to the Royal Free Hospital and a Camden Council care home to target dozens more vulnerable victims, the Ham&High can reveal.
In an exclusive interview, one of the lead investigators in the £1million fraud case of bogus shaman healer Juliette D’Souza revealed that the true scale of her criminal profits is likely to be more than £5million, stretching over a period of decades.
And her web of deception is alleged to have spread to the Royal Free and the Branch Hill care home, both in Hampstead, and taken in many more victims.
D’Souza, 59, was jailed for 10 years on Friday for 23 counts of fraud and deception spanning from 1998 to 2010.
Det Con Fiona Graham, who pursued the case alongside Det Con Linda Kernot, said: “I believe the victims in the trial were just a fraction. That’s £1million from a handful of people, but she’s been doing it for decades. I can easily believe it’s more than £5million.”
The Royal Free, in Pond Street, confirmed this week that a staff member, who still works at the hospital, faced disciplinary action after directing a patient to D’Souza in July 2012. A spokesman said the hospital was not aware of any other referralls.
The incident occured two years after the frauds covered in the trial and allegedly led to a seriously ill Hampstead man being told he would “die on the operating table” by D’Souza if he did not hand over more than £10,000.
“If a nurse at the Royal Free recommended D’Souza to one victim, knowing what I know, they must have genuinely believed in her,” said Det Con Graham. “There could be a whole other group of victims.”
It can also be disclosed that D’Souza has been investigated for two other high value fraud schemes, one involving allegedly cheating Filipino immigrants seeking UK visas which may have netted her another £1million.
The alleged scam is thought to have been masterminded from her Hampstead home in Perrin’s Lane.
She was also connected to a third police probe linked to the Branch Hill care home, where her parents lived. Precise details of that fraud investigation have not been released.
Meanwhile, Det Con Graham admitted police were wrong to drop the shaman fraud case in 2007, when many of D’Souza’s victims first visited Holborn Police Station. It was dismissed as a civil matter and closed by a senior detective. D’Souza went on to dupe her victims out of at least another £100,000.
Det Con Graham, who along with Det Con Kernot was highly praised by the trial judge, said: “It was the wrong decision – and the judge confirmed it was the wrong decision – however I can understand why that decision was made.”
She said there is copious evidence of more victims, including one who allegedly gave D’Souza a staggering £600,000, but did not want to take part in the court case.
“I believe she’s been defrauding people for decades,” said Det Con Graham. “I believe it’s a natural thing for her to do and that she won’t even be able to stop herself in prison.
“There are many more victims out there and we’re actively encouraging any further victims to come forward.”