A KEY player in an organised gang who cheated the benefits system of millions of pounds has been jailed.

Haringey Council tenant Cristian Dumitru, 29, of Junction Road, Tottenham, was jailed after helping more than 350 Romanian nationals to get NI cards illegally.

Dumitru also schooled them on how to apply for a string of benefits including child tax credits and housing allowances.

More than half of the Roma nationals Dumitru helped successfully claimed benefits amounting to £2.9million.

If the gang had not been caught, they would have cheated the benefits system of more than £12million.

Dumitru worked closely with a respected Roma community activist, Lavinia Olmazu, 31, and her partner Alin Enachi, 29, both of Woodford Green.

Olmazu, who acted as an advisor to several London councils, and Enachi created fake companies and issued bogus work references to deceive Department of Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs staff.

Her charity Roma Concern was a front organisation for the scam which was picked up by a special Met investigation, Opearation Golf, who were working closely with Romanian police to investigate a human trafficking ring.

Enachi was caught on surveillance camera meeting groups of Romanians outside Tooting Job Centre, in South London, and handing out false documents.

He would then accompany claimants into interviews acting as their interpreter.

Enachi controlled the false claims throughout, and together with Dumitru and Olmazu shared the profits with other members of their gang.

Dumitru, who had never held a legitimate job in the UK, was found transferring £80,000 through his bank account and wiring money to other gang members in Romania.

Detective Superintendent Bernie Gravett, of Operation Golf, said: "Cristian Dumitru is a member of an organised criminal network which, in this case, exploited these families to commit crime in the UK, pocketing some, if not all, of the profits.

"He would have defrauded the UK authorities of almost £12 million had the plan succeeded."

Dectective Gravett praised the team who had to take 400 statements, undertake a "significant amount" of surveillance and apply for several search warrants to see justice served.

The illegal claims amounting to £2.9million have now been closed down.

Dumitru and Enachi, alongside, five other gang members, were sentenced on July 16 at Southwark Crown Court but Olmazu will be sentenced on September 17 after admitting one count of fraud earlier today. Olmazu was also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, which will remain on file.

Detective Constable Melanie Groves, who worked on the case, said: "Olmazu is an educated Roma lady who abused her position of trust and purported to be trying to help Roma people integrate into this country, yet actually assisted them to obtain benefits through false pretences.

"This undermines the work of those who are genuinely concerned with the difficult issues Roma people face throughout Europe."

Enachi and Dumitru were jailed for two years and eight months, and two-and-a-half years, respectively after admitting one count of conspiracy to supply fake documents in order to commit fraud.

Dumitru admitted two further counts of fraud, and received two 14-month prison sentences, to run concurrent alongside his longer sentence.

Both Dumitru and Enachi were also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, which will remain on file.

Five other Haringey residents including Stelian Dimutru, 26, and his girlfriend Nicoleta Vasile, 25, both of Northumberland Park, Tottenham, were jailed for one year each after admitting two counts of fraud.

Cristian Dumitru's girlfriend, Paula Mihai, of Junction Road, Tottenham, also received a 12-month sentence.

Daniel Dumitru, 20, of Northumberland Park, and Ioan Dumitru, 22, of Walpole Road, received an eight and four months jail term after admitting two counts of fraud each.

Officers now plan to apply for deportation orders once the Romanian nationals have served their time.