Four fraudsters who used illegally claimed money from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to make false visa applications have been sentenced.

London taxi driver Mohammed Jillur Rahman Khan, 43, and the gang helped assist in the creation of 53 bogus companies, creating fake documentation which was used by foreign nationals in fraudulent visa applications.

Married couple Mazharul Haque, 46 and Maksuda Begum, 45, from Dartford along with Shaheda Roxsana, 47, of Edmonton used these companies to attempt to facilitate fraudulent repayment claims from HMRC over a three-year period.

Khan was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and was disqualified from running a company for four years. Roxsana was sentenced to 19 months in prison, suspended for two years, and was disqualified from running a company for three years. Begum was sentenced to ten months in prison, suspended for two years. Haque was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years.

The immigration fraud was uncovered in 2011 when the Home Office identified a suspicious pattern in a series of points-based applications for Tier 1 general and entrepreneur visas.

Both routes had a significant financial requirement, with applicants earning points based either on previous earnings or by demonstrating they had access to a minimum of £50,000 to invest in UK business. Case workers noticed that several applications were being submitted using slight variations on the same company names.

An investigation by Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team was launched and HMRC called in to probe the validity of the companies and PAYE claims linked to them.

The gang claimed their clients were employees as part of their tax and immigration fraud.

They created fake payslips and provided false information on around 900 visa applications to ensure eligibility for a Tier 1 visa.

At the time of the offences, Tier 1 (General) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas were both potential paths to obtaining settlement in the UK.

They transferred money into clients’ bank accounts to make them appear well-paid employees, with one client, a worker at a fast food restaurant, able to claim annual earnings of almost £50,000.

The money was subsequently paid back to the advisor and, between 2008 and 2013, millions were laundered through the bank accounts, with the cycle repeated until the visa conditions were met.

Officers found they charged some clients on temporary visas wanting to remain in the UK a minimum of £700 in cash for their fraudulent immigration services.

The group had worked alongside another gang of five who were sentenced last year.

The scam was led by London law student Abul Kalam Muhammad (known as AKM) Rezaul Karim, 42 – who was given a 10-year jail sentence in his absence in November 2018.

Alison Chipperton, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “These defendants willingly joined forces with an organised crime group to steal public money.

“HMRC worked closely with the Home Office to gather the strong evidence that has helped convict this group.

“Anyone with information on anyone committing this type of fraud should report it to HMRC online, or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”