The daddy of all fraudsters swindled £1.8million by claiming benefits for 188 fake children.
Ali Bana Mohamed, 40, roped in friends and relatives to help his scam which involved submitting bogus handout requests in scores of different names.
Child benefit and tax credit payments rolled in until HM Revenue & Customs investigators grew suspicious.
Officials spotted the same two numbers were repeatedly used to phone a claims call centre over seemingly unrelated cases.
A Department for Work and Pensions serious and organised crime probe dubbed Operation Paratrooper was launched and exposed the racket.
Six of those involved in the scam received jail sentences totalling more than 13 years at Liverpool Crown Court.
Mastermind Mohamed, from Hulme in Manchester, got three-and-a-half years after admitting 29 fraud charges.
He was already serving 16 years for drug and immigration crimes and will serve the extra time on top.
Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said his six accomplices – who were Somalian but lived in Manchester, Birmingham and London – were part of a 'massive fraud' perpetrated by Mohamed on the UK’s child benefit and tax credit system.
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He made claims in at least 70 different adult names over nine years.
In some cases, he hijacked other people’s identities while four of the defendants allowed fraudulent claims in their names in return for a share of the proceeds.
All the claims were made on behalf of named youngsters.
"Those children were fictitious,’’ Mr Slack said.
"In all 188 different children, whom were entirely fictitious, were claimed for.’’
The Government paid out £1.4m in tax credits and £346,000 in child benefit.
When investigators raided Mohamed’s home they found "several handwritten notebooks hidden under clothing at the back of a wardrobe", the prosecutor said.
They "listed the identities being used to pursue claims, the names and dates of birth of the fictitious children, the bank account and sort code of the bank into which the payments were being made and details of telephone passwords used when phoning up in connection with those claims".
A handwriting expert concluded Mohamed had written the notes.
Mr Slack said the swindler had several bank accounts either in his own name or a pseudonym into which the cash was paid.
Mohamed was the orchestrator of the frauds’ 'and in many cases, he was able to act alone’.
"However in other cases, he needed the help of others and the other defendants agreed to pursue specific frauds with him,’’ Mr Slack added.
Judge Brian Cummings QC praised fraud investigators’ "skill and determination" in exposing the racket.
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