Indian jailed in UK for major visa fraud
An Indian citizen who tried to submit hundreds of fraudulent British visa applications was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison on Tuesday and faces deportation to the country.world Updated: Sep 04, 2012 20:23 IST
An Indian citizen who tried to submit hundreds of fraudulent British visa applications was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison on Tuesday and faces deportation to the country.
Bhavin Shah, 34, of Edgbaston Road in Watford pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the Home Office, giving immigration advice illegally and money laundering during the first day of his trial at Isleworth crown court.
Operating from his business premises in Trinity House, Wembley and Viglan House, Alperton, Shah charged clients between 3,000 pounds and 5,000 pounds to process their applications for visa extensions, even though he was not a registered immigration advisor or solicitor, a UK Border Agency statement said.
The statement added that Shah would then use forged bank statements and qualification certificates to support their 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.
Those 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 pounds to bank accounts in the country.
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".
He added: "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 pounds confiscation order which he has to pay within six months or face an extra two years and nine months on top of the concurrent sentences, the UKBA said.
Shah's sentencing followed the conviction of John Masih, 39, 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 six months for illegally providing immigration advice, to run concurrently, the UKBA added.