Bhavin Shah has been jailed for four years nine months for posing as a UK immigration adviser.
05 September 2012
Fraudulent UK immigration advisor jailed
A London based Indian national has been failed for almost five years after pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud the Home Office while posing as a UK immigration adviser.
Bhavin Shah, 34, operated businesses in Wembley and Alperton where he would charge as much as £5,000 to process UK visa applications and extensions, despite not being a registered immigration adviser.
Shah would then use manufactured bank statements and qualifications to support these bogus applications, often without the consent, or even knowledge, of the unsuspecting applicants.
The man was arrested in November 2011 after an undercover newspaper reporter recorded Shah bragging about his ability to undermine the system. His addresses were then raided by the UK Border Agency (UKBA); fraudulent documents were found on his computer and financial investigations showed approximately £300,000 had been transferred to bank accounts in India.
"Shah was a conman who thought he could cheat the system," said Paul Tansiri who led the UKBA investigation.
"He also thought he could cheat his clients, many of whom went to him in good faith hoping he could help them."
Shah was sentenced to four years and nine months at Isleworth Crown Court but Mr Tansiri says that won't be the end of the man's punishment.
"Not only will Shah face deportation after serving his sentence, we have also begun Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings to prevent him from benefitting financially from his crimes."
Shah has been given six months to pay £190,000 or face another two years and nine months behind bars.
Shah is not the first unscrupulous immigration adviser to be apprehended by the UKBA and Marissa Murdock, casework manager at the UK Visa Bureau, says he won't be the last.
"Unfortunately there are many dishonest people willing to take advantage of the unwary and immigration is one of the worst industries for it. Paying a sham adviser to help you with a visa is not just a massive waste of money but it could put your immigration status at risk too.
"That's why it's always best to check any immigration adviser's accreditations first, find reviews and research costs. Avoid handing over any money until you can be sure the company or adviser is legitimate."
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.