Defendant is said to have taken "quite cynical advantage of vulnerable people"
An investigation by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner has led to a woman from Milton Keynes receiving a two-year suspended prison sentence for fraud and giving unregulated immigration advice.
Johanna Loader, 35, of Oberon Way, Oxley Park, who had previously pleaded guilty to four counts of providing unregulated immigration advice and services and three of fraud, was yesterday sentenced to a 12-month custodial sentence suspended for two years at Southwark Crown Court, Monday 7 August.
The sentence for each offence is to run concurrently. Additionally, for the next 12 months, she was given a rehabilitation requirement of 15 days.
There was no order as to costs or compensation.
An investigation by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) the body responsible for regulating the provision of immigration advice and services in the UK revealed 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.
She also committed the following frauds between August 2014 and June 2015 where she obtained £11,298.
Ms Loader told a couple that she could arrange a house for them from a local council.
She informed another victim that she had submitted an application to stay within the UK but had since received a refusal letter from the Home Office and was in the process of appealing.
To a fourth, that she 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.
HHJ Recorder Chawla KC said: “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.”
John Tuckett, Immigration Services Commissioner, said: “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”.
Notes to Editors
The OISC is an independent public body, established under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, to regulate the provision of immigration advice and services in the UK.
The legislation regarding qualification and supervision is provided by section 84 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
Providing immigration advice and services when not qualified or supervised is an offence under section 91 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
Immigration advisers can be located via our Adviser Finder platform - home.oisc.gov.uk/adviser_finder/finder.aspx
Media queries to the OISC via email@example.com.