Farah Damji

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Farah Damji
Farah Damji.jpg
Born (1966-10-09) 9 October 1966 (age 55)
Other namesFarah Dan
Criminal statusunknown
Children2
Parent(s)Amir Damji
Details
Victimsunknown
Span of crimes
1993–
CountryUnited Kingdom

Farah Damji (born 9 October 1966), also known as Farah Dan,[1][2][3] is a Uganda-born criminal, with multiple convictions pertaining to fraud and stalking, in the United States, South Africa, and United Kingdom.

Early life[edit]

Damji was born in Uganda in 1966, to a multi-millionaire property developer Amir Damji[4][5] and moved with her family to London in 1970.[6] She is the niece of journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Amir's sister);[4][7] who refers to her niece's childhood in her autobiography No Place Like Home. Damji has a borderline personality disorder and suffered addictions to cocaine and alcohol.[7][5][8] She is married and has two children.[4][6][7][5][9]

Life in the United States[edit]

During 1993–1995, Damji ran an art gallery in Manhattan and East Hampton.[10] 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.[11] Damji then forged the signature of the judge assigned to the case and amended the order so that she could get her belongings back.[11]

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.[10][11] She was also ordered to pay $72,000 to her major victims and given four years' probation.[10]

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.[11]

Damji then went to South Africa; there, she committed further financial crimes, for which she was deported.[4]

Life in the United Kingdom[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),[7][11] 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.[11] During this time, she also wrote articles for mainstream and ethnic media, including a regular column in the Birmingham Post,[11] an article in New Statesman,[12] and an article in The Observer.[13]

In October 2002, Damji stole a credit card from her nanny; she then ran up a bill on the card totaling £3,903.[9][14] 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.[14] 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.[9][14]

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.[5][9][14] While the trial was adjourned, Damji stole more credit cards and committed further crimes.[11][14]

On 14 May 2005, Damji was arrested, and this time bail was refused.[11] Afterwards, a trial was held, and it concluded on 13 October 2005.[5][14] 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.[5][11] The thefts totaled about £50,000.[5][8][14] Damji was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.[5][9][14] The judge in the trial described her as "thoroughly dishonest and manipulative".[5][9][14]

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.[15][16][17] She was re-arrested by police five days later, on 27 July.[16]

While Damji was in prison, she began writing her autobiography; she finished the writing shortly after her release.[11] The book was eventually published, in July 2009, under the title Try Me.[4][6][11][18] 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 further frauds.[19] 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.[20] On 29 January 2010, Damji was sentenced to 15 months in prison.[19][21] 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".[11][21][22]

In March 2011, Damji founded the company Kazuri Properties.[23][24] The company claimed to have established a "heroes center" to help former soldiers and servicemen who ended up in prison.[23] 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".[23] The company has since been dissolved.[24]

In September 2013, Damji founded the company Coming Home (Cardiff); she claimed that the company would assist young women in finding employment.[25][26] A letter announcing the launch of the company invited people to an event at Cardiff Castle, and said that the chairman of Mears Group would be attending the event. Investigation by Wales Online, however, found that the City of Cardiff Council, which owns the Castle, was unaware of the event and had received no booking for the Castle; additionally, the chairman of Mears Group said "We have no financial dealings with Ms Damji or her organisation".[25] Damji's company was dissolved in April 2015.[26]

On 19 August 2016, Damji was imprisoned for five years, after being found guilty of three counts of stalking.[1][2][3] 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] 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][3] (Damji had been previously accused of stalking the writer William Dalrymple, in 2004.[27] Dalrymple notified the British police, but no formal charges could be 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".[11])

In September 2017, while imprisoned at Bronzefield Prison, Damji filed a Request for Information with the Ministry of Justice.[28] The Request was for information relating to female prisoners under the supervision of a specified member of staff at the prison. The Ministry decided to reject the Request, on the basis that the Request was vexatious. In February 2018, Damji appealed the Ministry's decision to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). On 6 June 2018, the ICO upheld the Ministry's decision, and further noted that Damji's "abusive language aimed at a specific individual suggests that [Damji] has a personal issue with the individual named in her request".[28] On 4 July 2018, Damji appealed the ICO decision to the First-tier Tribunal; on 27 November 2018, the Tribunal dismissed her appeal.[29]

On 19 October 2018, Damji appeared in court accused of breaching a restraining order.[30]

In June 2021 Damji commenced legal proceedings against the National Health Service, arguing that they had failed adequate mental health services to her while she was imprisoned.[31]

In 2016 Damji has been described by The Sunday Times as "a notorious conwoman",[23] and by some other newspapers as "London's most dangerous woman" in 2021.[4][32]

Extradition Proceedings in Ireland[edit]

Facing trial in London for breaching a restraining order, Damji fled to Ireland in February 2020 where she was arrested in August 2020. The High Court (Ireland) ordered her extradition back to the UK in January 2022. Damji had argued that mental health services in UK prisons were "inadequate" for her needs and has commenced an appeal against her extradition.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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 21 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Stalker jailed for campaign against married church warden", itv.com, 20 August 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  3. ^ a b c d "Woman jailed for stalking", Metropolitan Police, 20 August 2016, archived from the original on 23 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, Alison (15 July 2009), "Confessions of London's most dangerous woman", London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  5. ^ 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 11 April 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Damji, Farah (2009), Try Me, The Ark Press. ISBN 978-1-907188-04-6
  7. ^ a b c d Adams, Guy (30 July 2006), "'It seems I am the cause of great consternation'...", The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 2021-08-13.
  8. ^ a b O'Neill, Sean (27 July 2006). "On-the-run thief boasts of freedom on internet". The Times. London. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ a b c Lambert, Bruce (5 November 1995). "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: UPPER EAST SIDE;Gallery Owner's Specialty: Con Art". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Thompson, Tony (2011), Gang Land (London: Hodder & Stoughton), chap.13.
  12. ^ "Writers—Farah Damji", New Statesman. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  13. ^ Damji, Farah (24 August 2003), "Shedding the shame of Uganda", The Observer. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Oliver, Mark (27 July 2006), "The net's not closing for this fugitive", The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  16. ^ a b "Jailbird blogger back in prison". BBC News. 3 August 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  17. ^ Adams, Guy (26 July 2006), "Socialite jailed for £50,000 fraud flees open prison", The Independent. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  18. ^ Jarvis, Alice-Azania (9 July 2009), "Book launch full of slimy characters", The Independent, retrieved 18 September 2016.
  19. ^ a b Hodges, Dan (4 February 2010). "Serial fraudster sent back to jail". Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Former magazine editor admits benefit fraud". Press Gazette. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  21. ^ a b Britten, Nick (29 January 2010). "Socialite jailed for housing fraud 'dripping with dishonesty'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  22. ^ "Fraudster jailed for 15 months", London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, 1 February 2010, archived from the original on 7 September 2014.
  23. ^ a b c d Leppard, David & Hookham, Mark (21 August 2011), "Fraudster eyes Tory rehab cash", The Sunday Times.
  24. ^ a b "Kazuri Properties CIC—Filing history", Companies House. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  25. ^ a b Shipton, Martin (30 October 2013). "Convicted fraudster plans networking event at Cardiff Castle for domestic violence victims". Wales Online. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  26. ^ a b "Coming Home (Cardiff) Ltd—Filing history", Companies House. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  27. ^ "Mystery e-stalker targets Dalrymple", Zee News, 16 December 2003. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  28. ^ a b "Freedom of Information Act 2000 - FS50725990", Information Commissioner's Office.
  29. ^ First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) information rights appeals. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  30. ^ "Convicted stalker 'breached restraining order after serving sentence'", Court News UK (19 October 2018). Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  31. ^ "Female ex-prisoner to become first to publicly sue NHS over mental health care in jail". news.sky.com. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  32. ^ Bell, Matthew (13 December 2009), "The IoS Diary", The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  33. ^ Neilan, Paul. "High Court orders extradition of on-the-run fraudster Farah Damji to the UK". The Irish Times. Retrieved 1 February 2022.

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