Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Civil Servant Helped Her Bogus Lawyer Boyfriend Rip-Off Immigrants

Anjali Patel
A UK Border Agency civil servant and her law student boyfriend, who plotted together to use her inside information to give immigration advice to illegals, will be sentenced for the £113,000 scam next month. 

Immigrants from Bangladesh, Colombia and Pakistan nearing the end of their visas or facing deportation handed over thousands of pounds in cash to fake lawyer Abdul Farooq, 28, who was secretly assisted by Anjali Patel, 31.

Croydon Crown Court heard Patel was an Executive Officer with the Case Resolution Directorate and accessed confidential information to help Farooq convince immigrants he was a qualified legal professional.

Today Patel, of Sonning Court, Outram Road, Croydon pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office between January 1, 2010 and September 1, 2011 and on or before October 14, 2011. 

The Crown Prosecution Service dropped two counts that she laundered £48,850 and £24,330 in criminal property and during an aborted trial prosecutors assessed the total losses to the victims as £113,000.

Farooq, of Barrow Road, Croydon had already pleaded guilty to the same two conspiracy counts, plus two charges of unlawfully providing immigration services.

Investigators discovered an image on Patel's phone of Farooq illegally giving immigration advice to a client at a hotel.

However, Patel discovered she would not be going to prison for the plot after Judge Nicholas Ainley indicated he would suspended any custodial sentence.

Prosecutor Miss Karen Robinson told the court the couple worked the plot between January 2010 and August 2011, after which Patel moved to a position with the Parole Board within the Ministry of Justice, where she was later arrested.

Farooq was studying law at Brunel University and had no obvious income, despite thousands of pounds pouring into his five bank accounts and gambling losses of £12,000.

"Despite not having a law degree Farooq held himself out to be a solicitor or someone qualified to give immigration advice," explained Miss Robinson. "He persuaded vulnerable individuals to part with substantial amounts of money in the hope he could assist them stay in this country.

"Patel assisted him by the unlawful access of database and document files, personal data and other sensitive information.
Abdul Farooq

"The information she provided enabled Farooq to tailor advice to applicants and she gave advice to Farooq on how to subvert the application process."

One 'client', Bangladesh-born Mamunmar Rahman, gave Farooq £12,950 cash to help him secure a five-year work visa, which would eventually give him and his wife and child the right to apply for permanent residency.

Farooq - also known as Zen - lied to Mr. Rahman, claiming he was an employee of Voyage International Relocation Ltd., which significantly offered work experience placements to Brunel University students.

Their meetings took place in a Croydon hotel and Farooq always insisted on cash payments, but the visa Mr. Rahman wanted never materialised.

Failed Colombian asylum-seeker Maria Garcia-Zuniga was working illegally as a cleaner and had spent over decade in the UK when she paid Farooq £2,000 cash to "regularise" her status.

"He told her that he was her solicitor and she did not need anyone else to help her with her immigration problems," explained Miss Robertson.

Pakistani-born Arman Ali was in custody for immigration offences and facing deportation when Patel told him to lie his way out of trouble, the jury were told.

"That was advice designed to frustrate the removal of an illegal person from this country," added Miss Robinson. 

Neither applicant received the visas they were seeking, with a frustrated Miss Garcia-Zuniga reporting Farooq to police and pursuing a bid to stay in the UK under human rights legislation. 

When the pair were arrested police also found evidence that Patel had large gambling losses and owed money to payday loan companies.

"The vice here is the manipulation of the computer system, but for this type of offence it is not necessary to impose an immediate sentence of imprisonment," announced Judge Ainley.

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