In an UK immigration related sham marriages, a gang involved in fake weddings with Eastern European brides to enable Pakistani men get to enter the UK illegally has been busted.
Czech and Slovak women living in the UK were paid by Rotherham-based ring to fly to Pakistan where marriages were arranged with Pakistani men a court heard.
Visa applications were being submitted to the British High Commission in Islamabad by the fake bridegrooms who were seeking to join their fake wives in the UK. They were providing false documents along with their visa applications.
The growing number of applications drew suspicion and none of the 62 applications were granted.
Sarah Wright prosecuting told the Sheffield Crown Court that it was a well organized commercial operation which was running over a considerable period of time.
The weddings included brides posing for photos with their ‘grooms’ pretending they were getting married.
One 25-year-old Czech woman claimed to have been ‘married’ three times in four months and another was found with £1,000 in her bag when she returned to the UK.
Eighteen defendants are now facing jail when they are sentenced at a later date.
After court restrictions were removed over the series of three trials, seven defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration from 2009 to 2011. Another 11 pleaded guilty, but two main organisers were still on the run.
Ms Wright told the court the main intent of the gang was to enable the applicants to enter the UK unlawfully. Although some took part in what appear to be wedding ceremonies with the applicants in Pakistan, the women clearly had no intention of living with them in settled and genuine relationships.
A total of 62 fraudulent visa applications were linked to 32 addresses in the UK, and false documents were traced to an address in Broom Grove, near Rotherham town centre.
It was the semi-detached home of the alleged organisers – brothers Talib Hussain, 41, and Tariq Mehmood, 27 – plus Rahina Zaman, 32, and Veronika Horvathova, 21.
Forged documents were also found in a bag in the attic at the home on the same street of Mohammed Ramzan, 59, and his wife Musserat Bi, 31. Bi was cleared of conspiracy.
Mehmood, of Allan Street, Clifton, and Veronika Horvothova, of Lindley Street, St Ann’s, were on the run.