Four men and women involved in a Sheffield sham marriage scam which ‘undermined’ the UK’s immigration laws have been jailed.
Masoud Rasab, aged 38, described as the ringleader of the scam, was given four years in prison, while his ‘lieutenant’ Sabrina Khan, 29, got two-and-a-half years behind bars.
Rasab, of Firth Park Road, Firth Park, organised weddings for men who were desperate to stay in the country between November 2009 and July 2013.
Sabrina Khan, of Wade Close, Broom, Rotherham, married Umair Hussain, aged 28, of Scott Road, Pitsmoor, a month after they met in October 2011. She also helped Rasab run the scam and recruited others.
Alisha Mahmood, aged 21 of Avon Mount, Masbrough, Rotherham, married another man, Muhammad Ishaque, who was not on trial.
Mahmood, who was also found guilty, acted as a ‘scout’ for cash and recruited Keeley Cox into the scam.
Cox, who had already pleaded guilty, married Yasir Awan, who was also not being tried.
The scam was exposed after Nottingham’s deputy superintendent registrar became suspicious of Mahmood and Ishaque’s wedding because there was ‘little interaction’ between them and reported them to the Home Office.
Judge Michael Murphy said the case undermined confidence in the immigration system in the UK, which he said is based on the idea that people of all backgrounds ‘meet and fall in love with each other.’
He added: “The immigration laws in Great Britain reflect that.
“Where people like you four seek to exploit the system, you undermine it. You cause the public confidence in the immigration law to be reduced.
“You Mr Rasab were the main organiser of this enterprise and a thoroughly dishonest person. It was motivated by greed.
“Sabrina Khan, you were more than just the position of a bride. You were a recruiter and a persuader.
“Alisha Mahmood, you did play some part in getting a vulnerable person, Keeley Cox, to join in this enterprise, but you yourself were a vulnerable person.
“You were 19 years of age with a severe drinking problem.
“Drink is not an excuse, it’s a background like your age and your immaturity at the time.
“It’s no defence whatsoever for any one of you to say that you were hard up.
“Many people are hard up. This was an offence that has a certain prevalence and therfore there has to be a degree of deterrence in the sentence I impose.”
Masoud Rasab was handed four years in prison. Sabrina Khan was given two years, six months behind bars.
Alisha Mahmood and Umair Hussain got 21 months in jail each.
Home Office investigator Mark Bates, from Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations, said: “This was a persistent attempt to trample over the UK’s immigration laws by a gang driven by dishonesty and greed.
“We will not tolerate sham marriage abuse, and this group will now pay the price for their criminality.
“The Home Office has specialist investigative teams who continue to crackdown on all forms of immigration crime. These sentences show that those who try to cheat the system will be caught and jailed.”
Keeley Cox pleaded guilty to conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law earlier this year. The others were all found guilty of the same offence on December 5 following a three-week trial.