gang of fraudsters who set up bogus companies to help 900 illegal migrants stay in the country in Britain’s biggest ever fake visa scam have been spared jail.
The group laundered millions of pounds through 53 businesses, including ‘Immigration4u’ and ‘Mo’s Spice Inn’, and made temporary transfers into clients’ bank accounts.
They also created fake payslips and provided false information on around 900 applications for general and entrepreneur visas between 2008 and 2013.
Their aim was to make the migrants look as if they were well-paid employees, as applicants for entrepreneur visas must show they have access to at least £50,000.
One of the gang’s customers was working at a fast food restaurant, but his accounts showed he had a £50,000 salary.
The scam, which could have cost the taxpayer £16.6m if undiscovered, was described as “immigration fraud of industrial scale” and a “highly organised, sophisticated attack on the UK’s immigration system”.
Taxi driver Mohammed Jillur Rahman Khan, 43, Shaheda Roxsanna, 47, and married couple Mazharul Haque, 46, and Maksuda Begum, 45, were all convicted of conspiracy to defraud the Secretary of State and conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.
But they walked free from Southwark Crown Court today after a judge decided to suspended their prison sentences.
Judge Martin Griffith said: “This case was part two of an immigration fraud of industrial scale.
“For many people who come to this country which must be for economic reasons, there is a time-table because there comes a time where you must prove that you have substantial income to stay in the country.
“Unfortunately the solution for some people is that they go to some services that prove income that just isn’t there – they pay through the nose.”
Some of the migrants in the UK on temporary visas paid the gang at least £700 in cash to help them remain in the UK.
Khan, of Goldsmith Road, Peckham, southeast London, was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years.
Roxsanna, of Felixstowe Road, Edmonton, north London, was given a 19-month prison sentence suspended for two years.
Haque and Begum, of Olive Road, Dartford, Kent, were handed prison sentences of 16 and 10 months respectively, suspended for two years.
Maryam Arnott, of the 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.”
Dave Fairclough, from Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation, added: “This was a highly organised, sophisticated attack on the UK’s immigration system.”