Visa scam: Four British-Bangladeshis people have been sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in London for their part in what has been described as the UK’s largest
immigration fraud involving fake visas for Bangladeshi nationals and attempting to cheat the UK tax department.
At a sentencing hearing this week, Mohammed Jillur Rahman Khan was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and given a two-year suspended sentence.
Shaheda Roxsana and Mazharul Haque were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and cheating the public revenue and handed a 19-month and 16-month suspended sentence respectively.
Maksuda Begum who had pleaded guilty at the start of the trial to obtaining Leave to Remain, or residency rights, in the UK by deception and cheating the public revenue was given a 10-month suspended sentence.
A suspended sentence means they have been spared immediate jail but must adhere to strict conditions to avoid being behind bars.
Maryam Arnott, the Unit Head of London’s Specialist Fraud Division at the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “This is believed to be the largest ever visa fraud that the CPS has dealt with and it is staggering the lengths these individuals went to in order to exploit the UK’s immigration system.
“The hard work and expertise of our Specialist Fraud Division and HMRC [Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs] resulted in them having to face the consequences of their crimes.”
The case centered on so-called “immigration advisors” who created a network of sham companies to cheat the UK Home Office.
As well as charging substantial fees for putting together bogus information for their immigration applications, the defendants in the case also tried to carry out a payroll fraud on HMRC.
Had the scheme been successful, the total loss to the public purse would have been in the millions of pounds, the CPS said.
Hundreds of people, mostly from Bangladesh, successfully applied for a visa they weren’t eligible for through the advisors’ scam, which gave them indefinite leave to remain, or permanent residency, in the UK.
The fraud against the Home Office was proved by detailed analysis of the applicant’s finances, which showed a complex pattern of transactions.
This showed that the applicants’ alleged “wages” had actually originated from payments they had made themselves to the defendants’ sham companies.
Following a series of raids on the defendants’ businesses and homes, a vast amount of evidence was found that could be presented to the court to show how the scheme operated.
The latest sentences link up with two earlier trials, during which nine defendants were convicted of conspiracy to defraud and cheating the public revenue at Southwark Crown Court and have been sentenced to a collective 31 years in prison.