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Father and daughter plead guilty to legal fraud scam

Father and daughter plead guilty to legal fraud scam | Race & Crime UK | Scoop.it

A FATHER and daughter from Brierfield, who ran a £250,000 legal fraud scam, have pleaded guilty at court.
Mohammed Arshid Khatana, 51 and his daughter Mahria Khatana, 24, both of Hawkswood Gardens, Brierfield, Nelson, appeared at Preston Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday 25 July). Mohammed Khatana pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud. Mahria Khatana pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud.
They were arrested after a three year investigation by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and the Legal Services Commission, during which it was discovered they had committed a large number of legal service frauds amounting to in excess of £250,000.
Enquiries into the Khatana’s two companies - POCA Consulting Ltd and Ultima Consulting - revealed that despite having no legal qualification or accreditation, they would offer legal representation to clients in proceeds of crime and other criminal matters. Mohammed Khatana would visit with the client and arrange to transfer their legal aid to a solicitors firm and would charge up to £500 for the referral.
They were also found guilty of defrauding a 74-year-old man, who was facing confiscation proceedings for money laundering. Mahria Khatana obtained quotes for legal representation from a barristers firm in London. She then doubled the quotes and sent a £43,000 bill to the man – a fee which should have cost less than £10,000.
Mohammed Khatana was found guilty of attempting to enter into a money laundering arrangement following a seven day trial in April. This came after an undercover officer posed as the girlfriend of a drug dealer and met with Khatana where he gave her advice on how to launder drugs money.
Detective Superintendent Jason Hudson from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit said: “Khatana was a ruthless serial fraudster who was prepared to use his daughter to steal from a wide range of individuals for his own gain. We worked closely with the Legal Services Commission in identifying and stopping Khatana's abuse of the legal aid system."
Chief Executive of the Legal Services Commission Matthew Coats added: “The LSC worked closely with the police on this case and we are pleased that both accused has pleaded guilty. Legal aid funding is public money and we will not tolerate people trying to defraud the taxpayer.
"We are actively engaging with our partners across the public sector to rigorously pursue and combat fraud."
Both Khatana’s will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on 12 September.

“Khatana was a ruthless serial fraudster who was prepared to use his daughter to steal from a wide range of individuals for his own gain." Detective Superintendent Jason Hudson
North West Regional Organised Crime Unit

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£40k arson scam lands Oswaldtwistle trader in jail

£40k arson scam lands Oswaldtwistle trader in jail | Race & Crime UK | Scoop.it

AN Oswaldtwistle shopkeeper who torched his store for an insurance payout of up to almost £40,000 has been jailed for four years.


Saddaqat Ali was found guilty of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered on August 11, 2010 and fraud between August and December 2010, after a week long trial at Burnley Crown Court.

The 40-year-old married father of four, who had claimed the blaze had nothing to do with him and denied the allegations, was sentenced yesterday, after the court waited for pre-sentenced and psychiatric reports.

Recorder Mark Ainsworth told Ali at a previous hearing: “A prison sentence was inevitable.”

Sitting at Preston Crown Court Recorder Ainsworth sentenced Ali, who had no previous convictions. During his trial the jury were told, how Ali, started the fire at the West End Convenience Store, Blackburn Road, Oswaldtwistle after removing valuable stock from the shelves.

He had been seen leaving the premises at about 10.30pm, by a neighbour who was also a regular customer.

Shortly after, the customer heard a popping sound from the shop.

Worried neighbours risked their lives trying to smash their way in with a sledge hammer, fearing people might be trapped inside.

Firefighters tackled the blaze and their investigation proved the fire had been started deliberately.

The court also heard Ali made a claim to his insurance company for damage and business interruption, saying he had been burgled. No cash was ever paid out.

Ali, of Perry Street, Darwen, who had leased the premises for a year at the time, claimed the business had been going well and he had been making a profit.

He insisted the shop had not been in trouble and claimed the first thing he knew about the blaze was the next morning, when he listened to voice messages from loss adjustors on his mobile phone.

Giving evidence, the defendant had told the court that he had left the shop at 9.30pm and had gone to the house of a woman he was having an affair with before driving home.

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Home Office Approved Immigration Adviser Jailed for Visa Scam

Home Office Approved Immigration Adviser Jailed for Visa Scam | Race & Crime UK | Scoop.it
A Home Office-approved adviser and his wife who made more than £1million helping scores of immigrants illegally remain in Britain as part of a visa scam were jailed yesterday.


When police raided the family home of Vijay and Bhawna Sorthia, they found bundles of cash totalling £330,000 hidden in a cupboard as well as documents relating to dozens of individuals they had unlawfully assisted.
Mr Sorthia, 35, who ran immigration advisory service Migration Gurus from a small office in North West London, was yesterday imprisoned for 10 years for his part in the lucrative plot.

He first came to Britain as a student in 2000, but then illegally gained a work permit in 2004 after claiming he was employed by a sham company.
His 31-year-old wife, who said she worked as a cleaner at his office, was given a 15 month jail term for her ‘subordinate role’ in the scam.
The pair, who are both Indian nationals and have three young children, will face deportation once their sentences have been served.
As an accredited adviser with the Offices of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), which is linked to the Home Office, Mr Sorthia was able to assist individuals with claims for asylum, as well as immigration, residence and citizenship applications.

In its advertising, Migration Gurus touted itself as ‘a leading Immigration and Overseas Education consultancy’ which had ‘assisted hundreds of individuals’ enter or remain in Britain.
During an-18 month period between 2008 and 2010, the couple helped more than 160 clients illegally gain a visa by providing them with false documents alleging they were highly-skilled migrants.
It is estimated they charged between £3,000 to £5,000 each time.
But in reality, the individuals were already in Britain as foreign students, or migrant workers employed as low-skilled labour at supermarkets, betting shops or petrol stations, who would not have qualified for a new visa under the current immigration criteria.
In a bid to bypass Home Office rules, the couple were using up to 70 sham companies to provide clients with payslips and wage payments which gave the appearance they were earning much larger sums, making them eligible to remain.
Sentencing the couple at Isleworth Crown Court, Judge Andrew McDowall said Mr Sorthia’s actions risked ‘undermining’ Britain’s immigration controls and ‘eroding public confidence’ that migrants had arrived lawfully.

He warned: ‘During difficult economic times, it becomes easier for those who are motivated by racial motives to start casting aspersions against those that are properly and legitimately in the country by trying to paint everyone of that ethnic group as tainted in some way, over the wrongdoings done by a limited number.’
The court heard that following their arrest in May 2010 by investigators from the UK Border Agency, the couple sold their home in Stanmore, North West London, and transferred £466,000 out of the country, before fleeing to India on fraudulent passports.
They returned to Britain in the July 2011, but only after taking a £21,000 holiday across the United States, stopping off in New York, the Grand Canyon, Atlanta, Louisiana and San Francisco.
In total, the jury were told Mr Sorthia helped 166 people gain visas illegally over an 18-month period.
But the real number of migrants who gained a visa unlawfully is likely to have run into the hundreds, with investigators dealing with the case estimating the criminal proceeds from the scam could have netted the pair up to £1.2million.
Fifteen clients who benefitted from the scam have already been convicted and sentenced to between eight and 10 months in prison. Of these, 14 have already been deported.
Senior UKBA investigating officer Robert Coxhead said: ‘Vijay and Bhawna Sorthia knowingly flouted the UK’s immigration laws.
‘They ran a sophisticated scam designed to help people who would otherwise have no right to be here stay in the UK.
‘The amount of cash found at their home illustrates how lucrative this was, and we will now begin the process of stripping them of those assets using the Proceeds of Crime Act.
‘The couple will also face deportation after they have served their sentences.’
The pair were both found guilty of fraud charges and removing criminal property, while Mr Sorthia was also guilty of obtaining leave to remain by deception.
A confiscation hearing to recover any money the couple made from the scam will take place later this year.

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