Thursday, May 07, 2009

Indian illegal immigrant gang 'masterminded Britain's biggest ever visa scam'

Three illegal immigrants who masterminded Britain's single biggest visa scam boasted about how easy it was to cheat the Home Office, a court heard today.

The gang ran a fraud factory creating thousands of counterfeit documents enabling hundreds to cheat border controls, Isleworth Crown Court in west London was told.

Indians Jatinder Kumar Sharma, 44, his wife Rakhi Shahi, 31, and a second woman Neelam Sharma, 38 helped hundreds of migrants enter the country illegally.

Prosecutor Francis Sheridan said the trio opened the door to hundreds of unsuitable migrants without means to support themselves, leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill.

He said one member was even secretly recorded boasting how Home Office officials 'do not even bother to look' at documents and 'just stamp them blindly'.

Mr Sheridan told the jury: 'They were acting on behalf of clients to cheat the Home Office, to cheat the Home Office wholesale.

'They have made a fortune, there are no bones about that, they have made a small fortune at the hands of the Home Office.'

Metropolitan Police officers and officials from the UK Border Agency swooped on Univisa, based at The Crescent, South Road, Southall, west London, in February 2008.

They acted after a local newspaper journalist posing as a migrant uncovered evidence of counterfeit documents for sale, the court heard.

They discovered a mountain of 90,000 documents including false university certificates, academic records, bank statements and pay slips.


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