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Bogus Indian-origin visa lawyer jailed in UK

Thethi, 46, was guilty of six counts of fraud by false representation at the Southwark Crown Court.

punjab Updated: Sep 07, 2018 23:47 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
immigration fraud,punjabi NRI,visa frauds
The accused obtained £68,000 for immigration-related services, but never delivered.(HT Photo)

Harvinder Kaur Thethi, who was found guilty in July of falsely claiming to be a barrister, solicitor and a Home Office official with influence in immigration applications, was jailed for five years, on Thursday.

Based in Solihull, West Midlands, Thethi, 46, was guilty of six counts of fraud by false representation at the Southwark Crown Court. The offences took place between June 1, 2013, and September 8, 2014, in Hounslow, West London.

Thethi, who obtained £68,000 from vulnerable people for immigration-related services which were promised but not delivered, ingratiated herself to the victims and was treated as a daughter or sister, officials said.

Judge Loraine-Smith told Thethi, “You decided to embark on a fantasy life, when you claimed to be a successful lawyer earning a large income. You were nothing of the sort. The large amounts of money you obtained came entirely from money you had stolen from people you had befriended and cheated.”

“People whose immigration status is precarious are very, very vulnerable. It is not surprising that if they found somebody they thought was a family friend, they could be convinced to part with large sums of money they could ill-afford. You preyed on their vulnerability again and again.”

The case was investigated by Scotland Yard, immigration officials and the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC), which regulates immigration advisers and makes sure they meet certain standards.

Ian Leigh of OISC said: “Thethi was operating outside of the law, preying upon vulnerable victims without regard for their protection or the consequences of her criminal behaviour. I am delighted with the outcome of this case, and I hope it sends a clear deterrent message.”

First Published: Sep 07, 2018 20:19 IST