A ‘fake’ psychiatrist spent two decades working for the UK’s National Health Service – earning more than $1m – after falsifying her qualifications, a court has heard.
Zulia El Alimi, described as “a most ingenious faker and fraudster”, allegedly duped the General Medical Council (GMC) into granting her registration as a doctor and then worked for various health trusts across the UK.
Manchester Crown Court heard the claim of Iranian-born Alemi, who is believed to be 60, to have obtained a doctor’s qualification from the University of Auckland in 1992.
However, she allegedly never passed the six-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) course and failed her exams before coming to the UK three years later.
Christopher Staples, the Attorney General, said: “In short, the prosecution’s case against this defendant is that she, for nearly 20 years, worked as a doctor, a physician, when, in fact, she did not pass or obtain the relevant university qualification and was not a qualified physician at all.” “.
“This identifies the problem that lies at the heart of this issue as you will hear.”
All charges against Alimi relate to the period from September 1995 to June 2017, after she arrived in the UK from New Zealand.
Stables said Alemi was a “fraudulent” who secured entry to the GMC registry for medical practitioners by falsifying her qualifications and other documents.
He explained, “She is, according to the prosecution, the most ingenious fraud and fraud, but she does not have the qualifications to allow her to be called or to be considered a doctor in any way.”
Stables said Alemi used deception and fraud to obtain employment and that a “conservative estimate” of the money she fraudulently obtained was equivalent to between $1.2 million and $1.5 million in the United States.
He said that the defendant’s case was suitably qualified and the documents proving her qualifications were all originals, and she was therefore entitled to the compensation she was awarded.
He told the jury that her motive was “irrelevant”, but that she “may have simply wanted to be a doctor”, and, having failed her exams, framed her qualifications so that she “could train in a field that interested or stimulated her”.
She may have simply “wanted the status of a doctor”, he said, but it was “unlikely” that the true situation would ever be known, and “the fact remains” that the sums she received were the result of her deception.
The court heard how Alemi was allowed to join the GMC medical record through the Commonwealth route – a legitimate route that was closed in 2003 – which could only be achieved if the applicant held a certain degree known as MBChB.
However, her application contained spelling and grammatical errors, with an alleged verification letter for her degree from the university’s medical school coming from the “registrant” faculty rather than the registrar.
The court who claimed to have signed the letter had in fact quit her job by then.
Staples said the prosecution’s issue was that the documents Almy sent to GMC were not original and were “forged” and not issued by the University of Auckland.
The court heard that Alimi had first entered university in 1988 for a BA in human biology which she obtained, after failing some of her exams in 1992.
This qualification did not make her a doctor, Stables said, and Alemi never obtained her MBChB degree from the University of Auckland after failing her sophomore exams and “not getting on”.
He said, “She never graduated as a doctor. That is why she forged the degree certificate to send to GMC with the application for registration.” “All this,” he added, is confirmed by university records.
The court heard police raided one of her properties in Omagh, Northern Ireland, in 2019 and discovered “kit forged”.
Stables said an expert witness would provide evidence that items found at the house in a suitcase, which included dry transfer letters purchased from a WH Smith store in the UK and blank degree documents, were used to make a fake parchment for Alemi.
The court heard that Al-Alimi became a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2003, passing the first part of their exams after four attempts and the second part after three attempts.
However, her membership was terminated within days of her frauds coming to light, Staples said. GMC revoked its license to practice medicine in November 2018.
Alemi, of Burnley, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of fraud, three counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, two counts of forgery and two counts of using a counterfeit instrument.
The trial is expected to last several weeks.
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