Man who lied on his CV to swindle nearly £350,000 out of the NHS to fund his 'lavish lifestyle' – all whilst pretending to have cancer – has been jailed for five years
PUBLISHED: 17:23 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:23 23 November 2018
A man swindled £350,000 out of the NHS by lying about “almost everything” including having cancer and a war record exposed when colleagues discovered he bought medals off the internet, was jailed for five years.
The fraudster worked for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust for 17 months but was sacked after staff discovered his lies.
Phillip Hufton of Ack Lane West in Cheshire claimed to have saved “countless lives in the UN”. He has been pictured wearing fake medals he bought online.
The 52-year-old, who claimed to have trained as a doctor, pretended to have cancer and took time off work for surgery which was never carried out.
On his CV, Hufton claimed he was a doctor and had a PhD. The only qualification he actually has is a Bachelor of Nursing Degree.
On Thursday, November 22, Cambridge Crown Court sentenced Hufton to five years in prison.
Judge Jonathan Cooper told Hufton the offences had helped him fund a lavish lifestyle and he later took steps to make it harder for his employer to report his actions.
Sergeant Andy Denzey said: “In interview Hufton initially stated all of this was a big misunderstanding.
“However, over the next hour and a half he eventually admitted that he lied about almost everything. His lies were almost beyond belief.
“He admitted to claiming to be in Jordan whilst actually on holiday in America with his family. He admitted to lying about having cancer.”
Based at Fulbourn Hospital, Hufton was employed from September 2014 to January 2016 as a business development manager for the trust. He was hired to promote the trust’s business in the Middle East.
However, internal investigations were carried out after staff discovered ‘several discrepancies’ in his working time and expenses.
In October 2015, Hufton told the trust he was working in Amman visiting refugee camps, claiming £9,000 in expenses, but GPRS from his phone placed him in the USA and the Caribbean Islands.
He also claimed to be in Jordan for work when he was on a family holiday, set up a fake email account to authorise his own company expenses of more than £13,000 and ran up a £9,000 invoice bill for a work trip when he was in fact in the USA.
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust said: “The actions of Philip Hufton were reprehensible. He had come to the Trust highly recommended and with good references.
“However, at a time when NHS finances are under severe pressure, he decided to defraud taxpayers’ money for personal gain.
“He also sought to win the trust of staff with his series of lies.
“He may well have committed further crimes if hadn’t been for the diligence of colleagues who raised initial concerns, and our internal investigators who then alerted Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
“We would like to thank police for their support and the painstaking investigation they undertook, and the sentence given to Philip Hufton is entirely appropriate.”
The total amount of money gained and paid to Hufton throughout his employment was £349,383.
Hufton was arrested and, in interview, admitted he had never paid any income or corporation tax.
He said it was ‘very hard to remember’ what he’d done in the web of deceit, and when his lies first started he was living in a tent at Cambridge having suffered marital difficulties.
Hufton admitted claims he’d been in the army were untrue and had actually been an acting captain in the Territorial Army.
Hufton told officers a large amount of his adult life had been lived as a lie and he had ‘sort of expected’ a knock at his door.
He said he built a coping mechanism to keep people at home happy and had tied himself in knots.
At a previous court hearing, Hufton pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation on the basis that the financial benefit to him was only £173,000 and not the full amount of £349,383.
Sergeant Andy Denzey said: “Hufton caused a great inconvenience and a large amount of stress to all involved, turning his hand to criminality in order to fund his personal life.
“This is a very positive result from the court and the sentence sends a message to others who may be thinking about lying to gain employment - it will eventually catch up with you.”