A gang which arranged for proxies to sit English languages tests on behalf of students - or supplied the answers – have been jailed.
The defendants made more than £500,000 from students who were seeking visa extensions but were convicted after trial following a prosecution by the CPS Specialist Fraud Division
The court heard how, if a substitute was not used, the group would simply read out the answers in the language tests. As well as cheating in exams, they also provided forged bank statements and academic records to help non-EU citizens in the UK on student visas extend their stay.
Harinder Kumar, Mohammed Hasan, Shaheen Ahmed and Talal Chowdhury were found guilty of conspiring to breach immigration law following a trial at Southwark Crown Court.
The jury failed to reach a verdict on two other defendants - Hemant Kumar and Wahida Sultana – who will face a retrial in the New Year.
Kristin Jones, Head of the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, said:
“This scheme involved manipulating language tests and falsifying paperwork in order to meet the relevant criteria for visa extensions.
“The prosecution evidence showed the defendants systematically and persistently used their knowledge of the system to make a significant amount of money for themselves.
“We are grateful to the BBC Panorama team for their assistance in this case, which included obtaining compelling evidence which demonstrated the group’s actions to the jury.”
Notes to Editors
- Harinder Kumar, 31, of Southall, Mohammed Hasan, 37, of Dagenham, Shaheen Ahmed, 33, of Orpington and Talal Chowdhury, 33, of Rainham, were all convicted of conspiring to facilitate the commission of breaches of immigration law.
- Kumar was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
- Hasan was sentenced to five years imprisonment.
- Ahmed was sentenced to eight years imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for 10 years.
- Chowdhury was sentenced to eight years imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for 10 years.
- The jury failed to reach a verdict in the cases of Hemant Kumar, 40, of Southall, and Wahida Sultana, 38, of Plaistow, who were charged with conspiring to facilitate the commission of breaches of immigration law. Prosecutors have sought a retrial for both defendants, which has been scheduled for May 2017.
- Chowdhury Habib, 32, of Newham, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to facilitate the commission of breaches of immigration law at an earlier hearing. He is due to be sentenced on Thursday, December 22.
- The prosecution followed a documentary by the BBC’s Panorama programme and a subsequent investigation by the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Division.
- At an earlier trial in May 2016, also stemming from the Panorama broadcast, four other people were convicted of similar immigration offences and received jail sentences.