Farah Damji

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Farah Damji
Farah Damji.jpg
Born 9 October 1966
Kampala, Uganda

Farah Damji, also known as Farah Dan,[1][2][3][4] is a criminal with multiple convictions in both the U.K. and the U.S. Damji has been described by The Sunday Times as "a notorious conwoman",[5] and by some other newspapers as "London's most dangerous woman".[1][6][7][8]

Damji has borderline personality disorder.[9][10][11] She is the daughter of property tycoon Amir Damji, who lived in South Africa and in London.[7][11] She was born in Uganda in 1966, and moved with her family to London in 1970.[12] She has two children.[7][9][11][12][13]

In the U.S. and South Africa[edit]

During 1993–1995, Damji ran an art gallery in Manhattan and East Hampton.[14] At that time, she rented an apartment for herself. She gave the landlord a cheque she had received for $20, which she had altered to $20,000; when the cheque bounced, the landlord obtained an eviction order and seized her belongings.[15] Damji then forged the signature of the judge assigned to the case and amended the order so that she could get her belongings back.[15]

In October 1995, Damji was sentenced to six months in Rikers Island prison, in New York, for those crimes and other crimes related to her art gallery: five counts of grand larceny, possession of a forged instrument, and altering official records.[14][15] She was also ordered to pay $72,000 to her major victims and given four years' probation.[14]

During the time Damji was on probation, she allegedly committed other crimes; when a warrant for her arrest was subsequently issued, she fled the U.S.[15] Damji then went to South Africa; there, she committed further financial crimes, for which she was deported, in 2000.[7]

In the U.K.: financial crimes[edit]

Damji then returned to the United Kingdom. There, she founded, and became the publisher and editor of, the lifestyle magazine Another Generation (originally named Indobrit),[9][15] which folded after nine issues. Dozens of writers, photographers, and other contributors to the magazine were either not paid for their work or given cheques that bounced.[15] During this time, she also wrote articles for mainstream and ethnic media, including a regular column in the Birmingham Post,[15] an article in New Statesman,[16] and an article in The Observer.[17]

In October 2002, Damji stole a credit card from her nanny; she then ran up a bill on the card totaling £3,903.[13][18] She was arrested for that, and then released on bail. While out on bail, she stole another credit card from her business assistant; she then ran up a bill on the card totaling £1,030.[18] She was arrested for that, and then released on bail again. In 2004, while out on bail, she stole another credit card and ran up bills on the card; she also committed other thefts.[13][18]

The trial, for the crimes committed during 2002–2004, was originally scheduled to be held in February 2005. Before the trial, however, Damji telephoned the main prosecution witness and, pretending to be from the Crown Prosecution Service, she told the witness that he did not need to attend court; consequently, the witness did not turn up, and so the trial had to be adjourned.[11][13][18] While the trial was adjourned, Damji stole more credit cards and committed further crimes.[15][18]

On 14 May 2005, Damji was arrested, and this time bail was refused.[15] Afterwards, a trial was held, and it concluded on 13 October 2005.[11][18] Damji pleaded guilty to six counts of theft, 11 counts of obtaining property or services by deception, and two counts of perverting the course of justice.[11][15] The thefts totaled about £50,000.[10][11][18] Damji was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.[11][13][18] The judge in the trial described her as "thoroughly dishonest and manipulative".[11][13][18]

Damji was temporarily released from Downview Prison, on 22 July 2006, to attend a meeting with her Open University tutor, but did not return as required that same day.[19][20][21] She was re-arrested by police five days later, on 27 July.[20]

While Damji was in prison, she began writing her autobiography; she finished the writing shortly after her release.[15] The book was eventually published, in July 2009, under the title Try Me.[7][12][15][22] In the book, Damji claims to have been rehabilitated and put her criminal past behind her.

Weeks after she was released from prison, Damji began committing other frauds.[23] In July 2009, Damji pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly making false representations to Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council, which included benefit frauds of £17,000; she additionally pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly making false representations to landlords, which included defrauding one landlord of £7,685.[24] On 29 January 2010, Damji was sentenced to 15 months in prison.[6][23][25] At the trial, the judge said "The level of dishonesty at every conceivable juncture is so persistent it's the type of case I have never come across before".[6][15][25][26]

In March 2011, Damji founded the company Kazuri Properties.[5][27] The company claimed to have established a "heroes center" to help former soldiers and servicemen who ended up in prison.[5] An investigation by The Sunday Times found that the center did not exist and concluded that Damji's aim was "to take advantage of [the government's] fund for prisoner rehabilitation schemes".[5] The company has since been dissolved.[27]

In September 2013, Damji founded the company Coming Home (Cardiff) to assist young women in finding employment.[28][29] A planned launch event at Cardiff Castle raised questions about the nature of the organization and its links to other bodies.[28] The company was dissolved in April 2015.[29]

Stalking[edit]

On 19 August 2016, Damji was imprisoned for five years, after being found guilty of three counts of stalking.[1][2][3][4] She had been originally charged with one count of stalking, on 9 January 2014. She was released on bail shortly thereafter. While out on bail, she committed two other counts of stalking: one with the same man as for the first count, and one with a different man.[1][2][3][4] She had stalked under the name Farah Dan and other aliases. The stalking of the first victim included the following: sending over 180 hoax calls and texts to him; emailing the man's business associates and friends; inventing and blogging about false allegations of domestic abuse of his wife; sending sexually explicit material to his 16-year-old son; making threats of sexual violence involving his six-year-old daughter.[1][2][4]

Damji had been previously accused of stalking the writer William Dalrymple, in 2004.[30] Dalrymple notified the British police, but no formal charges were made, because the alleged stalking occurred when Damji followed Dalrymple to India, and so was outside of British jurisdiction.

During the late 1990s, when Damji lived in the U.S., she allegedly "terrorized several ex-lovers with a Fatal Attraction-like intensity".[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Boyle, Darren (20 August 2016), "Socialite, 49, dubbed 'London's most dangerous woman' is jailed for sick stalking campaign against church warden", Daily Mail. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  2. ^ a b c d Bullen, Jamie (20 August 2016). "Jailed: Obsessive stalker who set out to destroy businessman's life after he rejected her advances". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2016-08-21. 
  3. ^ a b c "Stalker jailed for campaign against married church warden", itv.com, 20 August 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  4. ^ a b c d "Woman jailed for stalking", Metropolitan Police, 20 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Leppard, David & Hookham, Mark (21 August 2011), "Fraudster eyes Tory rehab cash", The Sunday Times.
  6. ^ a b c Shaw, Anny (29 January 2010), "Socialite dubbed 'London's most dangerous woman' jailed for £17,500 housing benefit fraud", Daily Mail. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  7. ^ a b c d e Roberts, Alison (15 July 2009), "Confessions of London's most dangerous woman", London Evening Standard.
  8. ^ Bell, Matthew (13 December 2009), "The IoS Diary", The Independent on Sunday.
  9. ^ a b c Adams, Guy (30 July 2006), "'It seems I am the cause of great consternation'...", The Independent on Sunday.
  10. ^ a b O'Neill, Sean (27 July 2006). "On-the-run thief boasts of freedom on internet". The Times. London. Retrieved 2015-03-08. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Davies, Catriona (14 October 2005). "Woman posed as Blunkett aide to stop her own trial". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-03-08. 
  12. ^ a b c Damji, Farah (2009), Try Me, The Ark Press. ISBN 978-1-907188-04-6
  13. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, Geneviève (13 October 2005), "Tycoon's daughter is jailed for card theft", The Independent. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  14. ^ a b c Lambert, Bruce (5 November 1995). "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: UPPER EAST SIDE;Gallery Owner's Specialty: Con Art". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-09-18. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Thompson, Tony (2011), Gang Land (London: Hodder & Stoughton), chap.13.
  16. ^ "Writers—Farah Damji", New Statesman. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  17. ^ Damji, Farah (24 August 2003), "Shedding the shame of Uganda", The Observer.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i Shaikh, Thair (14 October 2005), "Tycoon’s daughter jailed for stolen credit card scam", The Times.
  19. ^ Oliver, Mark (27 July 2006), "The net's not closing for this fugitive", The Guardian.
  20. ^ a b "Jailbird blogger back in prison". BBC News. 3 August 2006. Retrieved 2015-03-08. 
  21. ^ Adams, Guy (26 July 2006), "Socialite jailed for £50,000 fraud flees open prison", The Independent.
  22. ^ Jarvis, Alice-Azania (9 July 2009), "Book launch full of slimy characters", The Independent, retrieved 2016-09-18 .
  23. ^ a b Hodges, Dan (4 February 2010). "Serial fraudster sent back to jail". Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle. Retrieved 2015-03-08. 
  24. ^ "Former magazine editor admits benefit fraud". Press Gazette. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 2016-09-16. 
  25. ^ a b Britten, Nick (29 January 2010). "Socialite jailed for housing fraud 'dripping with dishonesty'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-09-18. 
  26. ^ "Fraudster jailed for 15 months", London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, 1 February 2010, archived from the original on 2014-09-07 .
  27. ^ a b "Kazuri Properties CIC—Filing history", Companies House. Retrieved 2016-09-02.
  28. ^ a b Shipton, Martin (30 October 2013). "Convicted fraudster plans networking event at Cardiff Castle for domestic violence victims". Wales Online. Retrieved 2015-03-08. 
  29. ^ a b "Coming Home (Cardiff) Ltd—Filing history", Companies House. Retrieved 2016-09-02.
  30. ^ Kay, Richard (29 March 2004), "The last fling you expect in the desert", Daily Mail. Retrieved 2016-08-22.

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