The master forger aged 76 who has helped up to 15,000 stay illegally in Britain
A forger has cost the taxpayer ‘millions’ after producing fake visas and passports for thousands of illegal immigrants that were so good they even fooled the Home Office.
Abdullah Azad, 76, was paid thousands of pounds by immigrants, some of whom were given British citizenship on the back of bogus documents he created.
Some had entered legally on work permits or student visas and innocently believed he would help them stay through official channels. Others knew he was working illegally.
Abdullah Azad forged visas that were so good they even fooled the Home Office
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Experts believe many could have claimed benefits on the back of his forgeries.
Azad, of Disbury, Manchester, used bogus Home Office stamps, letters and endorsements, as well as college stamps and letters and national insurance number cards.
He even posed as former Manchester Lord Mayor Afzal Khan and wrote to local MP Graham Stringer for help with a case.
When the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) raided Azad’s ‘welfare centre’ in Moss Side in 2007 they found cash, 400 foreign passports and 5,000 families’ files relating to up to 15,000 people.
Most of his clients have never been traced.
A SOCA source said: ‘Azad’s files were grouped under family names, each of which had two or three people in, perhaps more, suggesting he could have helped 15,000 with bogus details, many of whom cannot be traced and are not known to the Home Office. He has cost the taxpayer millions.’
Father-of-two Azad was jailed for five years at Manchester Crown Court on Friday after admitting 34 specimen charges, including 19 offences of forgery, 13 offences of assisting in unlawful immigration, providing immigration services when not qualified and possessing a stamp for use in fraud from 2003 and 2007.
Sandip Patel, prosecuting, said those with forged documents ‘had access to numerous privileges, state benefits, employment and unfettered continuous residence’.
The court heard that one man, Tariq Chaudhry, was able to become a naturalised British citizen two years ago using a bogus ‘indefinite leave to remain’ stamp Azad had supplied.
Mr Chaudhry was one of many clients who believed Azad was a genuine immigration lawyer.
One witness, a Pakistani national named in court as Mohammed Ahmed, paid Â£3,100 to Azad in 2003 believing he could help him and his Filipino wife stay in the country legally.
The couple only found their documents were fake when the factory they worked in was raided by immigration officials.
The court heard that nearly Â£18,000 in cash was seized by SOCA and workers later testified they had been asked to bank cheques for as much as Â£37,000. Azad was jailed in 2002 for a similar passport scam.
When he was released Councillor Khan gave him a job doing administration and community work.
The fraudster repaid the favour by passing himself off as the councillor in a letter to Mr Stringer, asking him to intervene in the case of a man facing deportation.
Mr Khan said: ‘He was someone who had enjoyed standing in the community and I gave him some work to do because I felt sorry for him. I thought that after going to prison the first time he would have learnt his lesson, so I feel very saddened by this.’
Mr Stringer said: ‘I put down a couple of early day motions about him because he was bent as a nine bob note.’
Azad was given a suspended sentence in 2008 for providing immigration services when not qualified. He has had a stroke and has prostate cancer.
Bunty Batra, defending, said his client was a dying man who had started out wanted to help people before becoming greedy.
Sentencing, Judge Roger Thomas QC said Azad was at the centre of an ‘industry’, adding that he had made the plight of vulnerable people ‘worse’ and had a ‘streak of dishonesty’.