A man who falsely claimed he was fronting a legal business has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for charging £12,000 for advice a judge described as “worse than useless”.
Ajay Kumar Rattu, 39, of Coventry, was also ordered to pay £2,000 in compensation, and an additional victim surcharge, after being convicted of one count of providing unqualified immigration advice and services.
Rattu promoted immigration services by word of mouth through his local community, charging £12,000 to submit an application to the Home Office in this particular case.
He deceived the victim into carrying out all of the work himself and applications were submitted partially completed and without payment, causing continual refusal from the Home Office and resulting in the victim overstaying his visa.
The victim became suspicious and consulted a regulated immigration adviser who referred him to the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).
Immigration is the only area of law which is not one of the reserved legal activities but is subject to a standalone regulatory regime that allows non-lawyers to work in it.
On sentencing, His Honour Judge Potter said: “You were convicted by a jury who heard evidence about a man who was concerned about his status in the UK. You held yourself out as a man who was fronting an organisation of lawyers who could help people like him.
“All you had achieved was taking £12,000 of his money, supplied no assistance, and your advice was worse than useless.
“This is a fraud in everything but name, aggravated by the cynical way in which you took money from him, aggravated by threats you made to him about what would happen to him. In my judgement, your offending was so brazen that I could not pass a non-custodial sentence in this case.”
Deputy Immigration Services Commissioner Dr Ian Leigh said: “The OISC is here to ensure that people seeking immigration advice are treated fairly by people they can trust. This was not the case with Mr Rattu.
“I am delighted with the outcome of this case and hope it sends a clear message to other people considering providing immigration advice to act within the law.”