South Woodford solicitor jailed over immigration scam

Osman Sadiq

Osman Sadiq - Credit: Archant

A solicitor has been jailed for six years after forging almost 200 visa applications.

Osman Sadiq, 30, of Byron Avenue, South Woodford, charged up to £2,700 for a “Zambrano” application which allows foreign nationals to remain in the UK to act as carers to British citizens.

Sadiq, who was a director and lead immigration practitioner at a solicitors firm in east London, took genuine applicants and piggy backed others onto them without the knowledge of the British sponsor.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that he would then would then forge a letter from the British sponsor to support the bogus application.

Specialist Home Office investigators arrested Sadiq in June 2014 after uncovering irregularities in a series of visa applications, mainly people from the Philippines.

All of the 194 Zambrano applications submitted by Sadiq were rejected by the Home Office as they did not meet the necessary criteria.

Sadiq was charged with 12 counts of forgery and counterfeiting and pleaded guilty at a hearing on December 15. He was sentenced at the same court on Monday.

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In addition to charging the applicants between £800-£2,700, he also inflated the cost of the Home Office fees to each of his clients, claiming they were £655 when in fact they were just £55.

His case has been referred to the Solicitors Regulation Authority to investigate and a timetable has been set for proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act to start.

Assistant director Martin Huxley, from the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team, said: “Sadiq abused his position as a practicing solicitor and is now behind bars as a result.

“He manipulated and exploited clients who had innocently approached him expecting genuine and professional advice, charging extortionate amounts for visas which never materialised.

“Anyone thinking of doing the same should be warned that our specialist teams have the capability and resources to catch you and bring you to justice.”