Woman given suspended prison sentence for immigration scam

24/02/2014

A 61-year-old woman today received a suspended prison sentence at Birmingham Crown Court after she had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing of assisting the unlawful entry into the United Kingdom of non-EU nationals.

Between January 2008 and September 2010, Gurdev Nagra from Wolverhampton, along with her late husband, Duman Singh, submitted in excess of 200 applications for leave to remain in the UK to the Home Office on behalf of individuals, mainly from India, who had entered the country illegally. All of the applications were identified as fraudulent and refused.

The defendants were in fact unlicensed immigration advisors who were falsifying documents in order to support the application of the illegal immigrant to show that they had resided in the UK for 14 years or more in order to take advantage of the 14 year rule which allows someone who has been in this country for that length of time to legalise their status on this basis alone.

Having charged a fee to the applicant for their services, they then laundered the money through their respective bank accounts.

The Home Office began to notice that a number of applications bore similarities such as the same residential address in Wolverhampton and / or affidavits from a Notary in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab, India. Officials then began to collate these applications and an investigation by officers from the UK Border Agency was launched.

Nagra was subsequently arrested and charged with two counts of providing immigration services in contravention of a prohibition and 12 counts of assisting unlawful immigration to a member state. However, she pleaded guilty to two counts of assisting unlawful immigration and one of providing unlicensed immigration services, which the Crown accepted. She was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment in respect of the offences of assisting unlawful immigration and six months for doing so without licence, all suspended for two years and running concurrently.

Singh was also arrested and charged, but in 2013 he passed away due to a long term illness and therefore the case was closed against him.

A fellow defendant, Amrik Thind, 52, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one count each of providing immigration services in contravention of a prohibition assisting unlawful immigration to a member state and he was sentenced on 16 April 2013 to a total of 15 months' imprisonment for facilitating unlawful immigration with a sentence of 12 months for providing such services whilst unlicensed to run concurrently.

David Rouse, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said:

"Gurdev Nagra and her associates exploited vulnerable people, some who were illiterate, in order to gain financially through their illegal activities.

"The defendants were fully aware that they were unregistered immigration advisors, yet they continued to peddle their trade by allowing themselves to be held out as legitimate advisors in places of worship and public houses to target potential clients. They were so brazen about what they were doing that they even advertised their services in local Punjabi newspapers.

"Once they had identified an applicant, a fee would be charged which was far in excess of a legal application. The result was that most of the individuals parted with their life savings and some had to borrow money from friends and family which in turn put them in debt.

"The CPS will take steps to recover the proceeds from their crimes."

Neil Cross, from the Home Office's Criminal and Financial Investigation team, said:

"All of the applications which Nagra helped submit were identified as fraudulent by the Home Office and refused. That did not, however, stop her taking the money of desperate immigration offenders on the entirely false promise that she would help them obtain permission to remain in the UK.

"Across the West Midlands, the Home Office and the local criminal justice system are cracking down on immigration crime. We are detaining, prosecuting and removing people and gangs involved in sham marriages, illegal working, people smuggling and immigration fraud.

"This case shows that we will catch and prosecute anyone abusing our immigration system."