L of a clanger by bungling fraudster

Date published: 12 August 2014

A MAN who got caught trying to take a driving theory test on behalf of a friend has been found guilty of fraud.

Security guard Varmuyan Sirleaf (45), of Eden Street, Oldham, denied two counts of fraud by false representation when he appeared before Oldham magistrates yesterday.

The court heard that Sirleaf attended the Oldham Driving Theory Test Centre on September 19 pretending to be Musa Kromah.

A staff member became suspicious when Sirleaf was unable to reproduce the signature on the back of Mr Kromah’s provisional licence and then took out a mobile phone to make a call, despite being warned that that all belongings were to be left in the lockers provided.

Sirleaf then left the centre without taking the test.

On December 5, Sirleaf attended the Stockport Driving Theory Test Centre and this time managed to pass himself off as Mr Kromah but failed the theory test.

By this time, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) had started investigating because Mr Kromah had tried to take the theory test himself in November and had failed.

On the morning of February 23, police officers, along with DSA investigator John Clough attended Sirleaf’s address looking for Mr Kromah, who had given it as his address.

Sirleaf said he had provided his friend Mr Kromah — originally from Liberia — with an address that he could use to obtain a British passport, although the man stayed with other friends.

PC Wax Azam said that Mr Clough showed Sirleaf a still photograph, captured from CCTV footage, showing him at the test centres.

PC Azam said: “He confirmed, ‘That’s me’, and said, ‘I have commit no crime’.”

Sirleaf was arrested and taken to Chadderton police station, where he became agitated and had to be handcuffed.

In a police interview later that day, Sirleaf denied making the earlier comments and insisted that although there was a resemblance to the man in the footage, it was not him

Mr Tom Stevenson, defending, said that as Sirleaf has no previous convictions, it was more likely that he was telling the truth.

He said: “Mr Clough may have misheard as he has a strong African accent.”

Sirleaf, who was found guilty on both counts of fraud, was remanded on bail until sentencing on Thursday by Oldham magistrates.
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