MANCHESTER, England — A “fake” psychiatrist spent two decades working for the country’s National Health Service — earning more than $1 million — after falsifying her qualifications, a court has heard.
Zulia El Alimi, described as “the most ingenious fraud and fraud”, allegedly tricked the General Medical Council (GMC) into granting her registration as a doctor and then worked for several 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 succeeded in passing her six-year MBChB course and failed her exams before coming to the UK three years later.
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Prosecutor Christopher Staples said: “In short, the claim against this defendant is that she, for nearly 20 years, acted as a doctor, physician, when, in fact, she did not pass or obtain the relevant undergraduate qualification nor was she a qualified physician on the launch.”
“This identifies the issue that is 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.
The stables said El Alimi was a “fraudulent” who secured entry to the GMC’s registry of medical practitioners by falsifying her qualifications and other documents.
He explained, “She is, as the prosecution says, the most skilled forger and fraudster, but she has no qualifications to allow her to be called a doctor or in any way to be considered a doctor.”
The stables said El Alimi used deception and fraud to obtain employment and that a “conservative estimate” of the fraudulent money was equivalent in the United States to between $1.2 million and $1.5 million.
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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, polished her qualifications so that “she could practice in an area 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 college’s “registrar” 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 is that the documents Almy sent to GMC were not original and were “forged” and not issued by the University of Auckland.
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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 “never progressed any further”.
He said, “She never graduated as a doctor, which is why she forged the certificate to send to GMC with the application for registration.” He added that “all of this” is corroborated by university records.
The court heard police raided one of her properties in Omagh, Northern Ireland, in 2019 and discovered a “counterfeit kit”.
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.
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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.