A bogus immigration adviser submitted hundreds of fraudulent visa applications has been jailed for 4 years and 9 months, following an investigation by the UK Border Agency.
Bhavin Shah, 34, an Indian national, of Edgbaston Road in Watford pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the Home Office, giving immigration advice illegally and money laundering on the first day of his trial at Isleworth crown court.
Shah ran his business in Trinity House, Wembley and Viglan House, Alperton and charged clients between £3,000 and £5,000 to process their applications for visa extensions, despite not being a legally registered OISC immigration advisor or solicitor.
In addition to acting illegally as an immigration adviser, he would then use forged bank statements and qualification certificates to support client’s applications, often without the knowledge of the applicant. Some of these documents were found on computers seized from his addresses during UKBA raids in November 2011.
The raids followed information supplied by an undercover newspaper reporter, to whom Shah had boasted about how he could circumvent the system.
Financial investigations showed that Shah had transferred around £300,000 to bank accounts in India.
Paul Tansiri, who led the investigation for the UK Border Agency, said:
‘Shah was a conman who thought he could cheat the system.
‘He also thought he could cheat his clients, many of whom went to him in good faith hoping he could help them.
‘Not only will Shah face deportation after serving his sentence, we have also begun Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings to prevent him from benefiting financially from his crimes.’
Shah was also given a £190,000 confiscation order which he has to pay within 6 months or face an extra 2 years and 9 months on top of the concurrent sentences.
His sentencing followed the conviction of John Masih, 39, of Sutton Lane, Hounslow, who also played a key role in the scam.
Masih, who produced many of the fake bank statements and documents used by Shah, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and illegally providing immigration advice during a separate hearing. He was jailed for 18 months for conspiracy to defraud and 6 months for illegally providing immigration advice, to run concurrently.
Anyone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who is sentenced to 12 months or more in prison is automatically eligible for deportation on completion of their sentence.
The UK Border Agency’s West London criminal and financial investigation team is a specialist unit of police officers seconded from the Metropolitan Police working alongside warranted UK Border Agency officers to investigate organised immigration crime.
The UKBA advise that anyone who has information about immigration crime should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where anonymity can be assured. Source: UK Border Agency.
Cynthia Barker of Immigration Advisers Bison Management warns that migrants seeking immigration advice should only consult an OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) registered immigration adviser or qualified lawyer who deals with immigration cases.
The OISC regulates advisers, who must be qualified and keep up to date with changes by carrying out regular CPD and training.
Fake advisers and con artists who rip off migrants should be reported to the OISC and Police.
Unfortunately the Police will usually refer complaints to the OISC (which appears to have limited recourses to investigate these criminals) as they say it’s an ‘immigration’ or ‘OISC’ matter. But many of these cases involve blatant fraud or obtaining money by deception, which are crimes that should be dealt with by the Police.
Immigration fraudsters have been known to continue to operate and take money from unsuspecting migrants for several years before being brought to justice.
Last month the UKBA announced that an immigration computer database is being set up to track down the 150,000 people who are overstaying or remaining in UK illegally.
The project will be launched in September to help deal with the huge backlog of foreign nationals who have overstayed their student or temporary work visas.
If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email:
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For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email email@example.com
You could qualify for a tax refund if you are an overseas student, work permit holder, Tier 1, Yellow or Blue Card – in fact any visa type – even if you are no longer legal or have left the UK!