“This fraud was all the more cynical"
The leader of a gang of fraudsters has been jailed for running a British passport scam where he used the stolen IDs of two dead fathers.
Mohammed Asif, aged 34, of Oldham, was jailed for four years and nine months. He pleaded guilty to fraud and assisting unlawful immigration.
He helped eleven people obtain passports by claiming they were the children of the two dead men, British citizens of Pakistani origin.
Asif was one of ten people convicted for their roles in the scam following a six-year investigation by the Home Office.
Corrupt immigration advisor Shareen Akhtar, aged 41, of Rochdale, helped with the applications and provided countersignatures.
Manchester Crown Court heard Asif was the “driving force” behind the scam. He stole the deceased men’s naturalisation papers and other ID documents after claiming to their families that he was an immigration advisor.
The men passed away in 2004 and 2006. It was heard that Asif obtained his own British passport using the same method in 2010. He helped four other people get visas, which were supported by bogus sponsors.
Customers paid up to £10,000 for the service. Akhtar, who was struck off the list of registered immigration advisors, assisted with four of the applications.
Asif had referred three clients to Akhtar who then provided countersignatures for submitted passport applications.
She also forced a woman into using a false identity on a fraudulent passport application.
The woman was issued with the passport but it was kept by Asif who used it to open bank accounts and support further fraudulent passport applications.
The HM Passport Office uncovered the scam after they spotted “anomalies” in several applications, leading to a probe by the Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) department in 2013.
Investigators spoke to the men’s families and found out that their ID documents had been stolen. Family trees were produced, which proved the applications were fake.
Tony Hilton, of the CFI, said: “The fraud overseen by Mohammed Asif quickly developed into a commercial enterprise, based on charging customers large sums of money.
“This fraud was all the more cynical as it involved using the identities of wholly innocent parties and their relatives who had passed away, which was understandably very distressing for the families involved.
“Asif depended heavily on the support of Shareen Akhtar who abused her position of trust as an immigration advisor and was fully aware of the false representations that were being made in the applications.
“As with Asif, her motivation was personal financial gain.”
“My officers specialise in immigration crime and anyone involved in this sort of illegal activity will be brought before the courts and prosecuted.”
Manchester Evening News reported that after being convicted of four counts of fraud, Shareen Akhtar was jailed for three years.
Eight other fraudsters were previously convicted and jailed for their roles.
Aziz Ur Rehman, aged 43, of Oldham, was jailed for twelve months after he acted as the sponsor for a visa application for a Pakistani woman.
Once in the UK, the woman fraudulently obtained a British passport.
Genuine British passport holder Orang Zeb, aged 47, of Manchester, was jailed for 15 months after he acted as a sponsor for a fraudulent visa. He also allowed his details to be registered on a birth certificate as the father of Asif’s child, so a passport could be issued.
Abid Hussain, aged 45, of Stoke-on-Trent, received a 15-month sentence as he arranged for his wife to come to the UK on a visit visa. He then obtained a fraudulent British passport.
Asif Iqbal, aged 44, of Stoke-on-Trent, was jailed for three years for fraud and identity document offences. Samira Anjum, aged 36, of Oldham, was jailed for two years and three months for fraud and identity document offences.
Maqsood Hussain, aged 51, of Oldham, was sentenced to ten months in prison for fraud and identity document offences.
Asia Asif, aged 28, of Stoke-on-Trent, was jailed for eighteen months for fraud and identity document offences.
Farah Younis, aged 22, of Oldham, was sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for one year, for illegally obtaining a British passport, entering the UK without leave and identity document offences.