A Milton Keynes woman who provided unlicensed immigration advice and engaged in fraud was handed a prison sentence with a suspended prison term.
The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) conducted an investigation into Johanna Loader, 35, who resides on Oberon Way in Oxley Park.
They found that between 31 July 2014 and 12 November 2015, Ms Loader gave immigration advice to advice seekers when she was not qualified to do so.
Ms Loader told one couple that she could arrange a house for them from a local council.
And she informed another victim that she’d submitted an application to stay within the UK but had received a refusal letter from the Home Office and was in the process of appealing.
To a fourth, she said she had submitted housing and passport applications, and these were taking longer than expected.
All these claims were false. She carried out none of this work and because money was paid, the statements were fraudulent, said the OISC.
Loader obtained £11,298 through the frauds, they said.
She pleaded guilty to four counts of providing unregulated immigration advice and services and three of fraud. Her sentencing was yesterday (Tuesday) at Southwark Crown Court and she received a 12-month custodial sentence suspended for two years for each offence, to run concurrently..
She was also given a rehabilitation requirement of 15 days but there was no order as to costs or compensation.
HHJ Recorder Chawla KC told her: “You held yourself out as being qualified to provide advice and to make representations on behalf of a number of people, and you took, and I make no bones about this, quite cynical advantage of vulnerable people relying on you to provide help and were willing to pay quite a significant amount of money for that help.
“I am not prepared to accept that was an opportunist event but one that you repeated on a number of occasions, all for the simple reason for making money dishonestly.”
OISC Immigration Services Commissioner, John Tuckett, said after the case: “Ms Loader’s crimes had a serious effect on her victims charging them thousands of pounds in so-called ‘fees’ for work they thought she was undertaking. The severity of the sentence sends its own message as to how seriously such crimes are seen by the Courts.
“The OISC will continue to investigate and prosecute those who break the law by providing immigration advice when they are not qualified to do so.
“This case highlights the need for people seeking immigration advice to check before handing over any monies, whether their advisor is fully qualified and registered to provide that advice. The OISC website has an Adviser Finder facility where qualified immigration advisors can be identified”.
OISC was established under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and is the body responsible for regulating the provision of immigration advice and services in the UK. Providing immigration advice and services when not qualified or supervised is an offence under section 91 of the Act.