A suspected visa forgery ring in Bangladesh has been smashed following an investigation by the UK border agency and local police.
A large haul of fake visas, stolen passports and immigration stamps which could have been used to attempt to illegally enter countries including the UK was uncovered when police swooped on a forgery factory.
Eight people were arrested after a fake visa discovered by a UK Border Agency officer in the capital Dhaka was traced back to the forgers’ base in the city of Sylhet in north east Bangladesh.
Immigration minister Damian Green said:
‘We are doing more than ever to stop those seeking to abuse our immigration system from entering the UK and, as this raid clearly demonstrates, that work does not stop at the border.
‘Our investigations into organised immigration crime both in the UK and abroad mean we know the scams the gangs use and can keep one step ahead. The message is clear - the UK is no longer an easy touch.’
The raid on 18 June is an example of strong intelligence-sharing between the UKBA and overseas law enforcement agencies to stop those with no right to enter the UK from boarding the plane in the first place.
Following the detection of the forged visa by a UK border agency entry clearance officer, the agency’s RALON (risk and liaison overseas network) team in Dhaka worked with the US Embassy in Bangladesh and Bangladeshi police to trace the forgery back to the factory. Bangladeshi immigration special branch officers then moved in on the alleged forgers. The police investigation is ongoing.
UKBA officers receive detailed forgery and detection training and last year detected over 27,000 forged travel or supporting documents used to support visa applications worldwide.
The UK border agency’s regional director, Chris Dix, said:
‘We have made our border safer as a result of this operation. We will not tolerate abuse of the UK’s immigration controls and this operation shows what we can achieve through close and effective co-operation with the Bangladesh authorities and other countries to target this kind of fraud.
‘The UK border agency has effective verification systems as part of the UK visa application process. Where it uncovers fraud and forgery, the UK border agency will refuse an application, ban the applicant from travel to the UK for 10 years and will refer applicants and agents to the Bangladeshi police.’
Notes to editors
1. The UK Border Agency is responsible for securing the UK border and controlling migration in the UK. It manages border control for the UK, enforcing immigration and customs regulations. The agency also considers applications for permission to enter or stay in the UK, and for citizenship and asylum.
2. The UKBA risk and liaison overseas network (RALON) has more than 100 officers posted abroad in 50 locations. They work in co-operation with airline authorities and other countries’ police authorities to counter threats to the UK border.
3. Pictures of the raid on the forgery factory can be found on the home office flickr channel
4. For more information, ring Ben Biddulph at the home office press office on 020 7035 3857 or the newsdesk on 020 7035 3535.