LONDON: Three illegal immigrants from India have been accused of running a 'fraud factory' by submitting hundreds of bogus visa applications to the Home Office and allowing foreign nationals to enter Britain.
The scale of the fraud was such that one of them boasted how easy it was to cheat the Home Office and obtain visas for people who did not have the necessary documents for legal entry into Britain.
A case on the visa fraud is currently being heard in the Isleworth Crown Court in west London.
The three Indians are Jatinder Sharma, 44, Neelam Sharma, 39 and Rakhi Shahi, 32, both of whom are reported to be married to Sharma. All three allegedly entered Britain using false documents.
Francis Sheridan, prosecuting lawyer, said, "the fraud focused on abusing the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme which was designed to enable well qualified individuals with useful skills to work in Britain."
Between October 2006 and May last year, their company UniVisa, which posed as a company helping immigrants with paperwork, submitted 980 applications to the Home Office. In the process, the three earned hundreds of thousands of pounds. Sharma had pleaded guilty to immigration offences when his company provided customers with fake degree papers, references and CVs to help them enter Britain illegally.
Neelam Sharma and Rakhi Shahi are facing a similar range of charges at trial. They are also both accused of entering and remaining in Britain illegally.
Sheridan said, "Between them they submitted the largest number of fraudulent visa applications ever received by the Home Office from one source, making this the biggest immigration scam ever seen in this country."
He said that applicants with humble backgrounds were given false degrees, masters degrees, post-graduate qualifications and diplomas within a matter of months.
"Shahi was so confident of her ability to cheat the system, she even started offering her services on a no win, no fee basis," he said.
Sheridan said when police raided their house in Southall, they discovered some 90,000 pages of documents, including 980 visa application files.
"They have made a fortune, there are no bones about that. They were acting on behalf of clients to cheat the Home Office, to cheat the Home Office wholesale," added Sheridan.