A woman has been jailed for fraud and providing unqualified immigration advice and services, with her husband sentenced to community service.
Choice Chido Dzviti ,43, was found guilty of two counts of fraud, five counts of providing unqualified immigration advice and four counts of providing unqualified immigration services.
Sherman Dzviti, 42, was found guilty of two counts of providing unqualified immigration advice and one count of providing unqualified service.
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 practise in it, overseen by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).
The pair – who traded as CS Legal Consultants, CS Law Ltd and Casson Law – were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court; Choice Dzviti received a two-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay £26,951 in compensation to five victims.
Sherman Dzviti was given a community sentence of 200 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay compensation of £1,300. Both compensation orders are to be paid within 12 months.
The court heard that many of the complainants handed over large amounts of money and legal documents such as birth certificates and passports. The Dzvitis refused to hand them back or even to speak to the complainants leading to one contacting the Legal Ombudsman.
His Honour Judge Perrins said: “Choice Dzviti, your offending spans several years. You ignored the findings of the First-tier Tribunal. You deliberately misled the firm of solicitors supervising.
“You preyed on people who were especially vulnerable – and two of them you deliberately defrauded of significant amounts of money. You provided negligent advice and woeful client care.
“Sherman Dzviti, you were much less involved – but it cannot be said that the quality of your services was any better.”
John Tuckett, Immigration Services Commissioner, said: “In a devious and calculating way over a considerable period of time, the Dzvitis were successful in dishonestly taking a significant amount of money from their clients.
“This was a serious offence given the amount of money involved and the personal impact and hardship felt by the applicants. I am delighted with the outcome in this case.”