A TRIO from Heston and Hayes who ran a fake college have been jailed for a total of 22 years.
Sohail Akhtar and Noasheen Muhammed, both of Vicarage Farm Road, Heston, and Waqar Bhatti, of Avondale Drive, Hayes, used the institution as a front to grant visas to bogus students.
All three were sentenced at Harrow Crown Court on Tuesday (March 26) after being found guilty of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law.
Akhtar, 42, and Bhatti, 36, were each jailed for nine years, while Muhammed, 36, received four years in prison.
During a three-month trial, jurors heard how Bhatti had set up Middlesex College in 2004, employing his friend Akhtar and Akhtar's sister Noasheen Muhammed to run operations.
The college was originally based in Hayes, but later moved to premises in central London.
It purported to offer courses in anything from fashion to law at undergraduate and post-graduate level. The college claimed that some of these courses were being run on behalf of genuine universities.
But in reality it was all a front. The college ran only a small number of courses in basic English, and was largely a front for conning genuine students who wished to study in the UK and the authorities into granting visas for bogus students.
Bhatti and Akhtar were arrested at their home addresses by officers from the UK Border Agency's Criminal and Financial Investigation team in February 2009.
When officers raided the college, they found teaching areas consisted of four small rooms, despite its claiming to have around a thousand students enrolled.
Rob Allen, from the UKBA's London Criminal and Financial Investigation team, said: "Their operation was a sham, but virtually everything they did was with the aim of adding credibility to it and they were happy to fraudulently use the names of other people and institutions to do that."
Anyone with information about suspected immigration crime is asked to call Crimestoppers, free and anonymously, on 0800 555 111.