Joshua Connolly

A former Law student at Brunel University has been implicated in a scheme to scam migrants looking for legal advice to the tune of £113,000, Croydon Crown Court heard in January. Abdul Farooq, 28, provided this advice under the pretence of being a fully qualified lawyer, charging up to £13,000 per client facing deportation.

Image from The Guardian
Image from The Guardian

 

His girlfriend, 31 year old Angali Patel, worked as an executive officer for the UK Border Agency (UKBA), giving her access to client’s personal information within the UKBA systems. She then used her position to advise Farooq. The prosecutor, Karen Robertson said that ‘'The information she provided enabled Farooq to tailor advice to applicants and she gave advice to Farooq on how to subvert the application process.’

Both parties had acquired significant gambling debts, resulting in the use of pay-day loans. Mr Farooq was said to have had gambling losses of £12,000.

Many of his clients were immigrants from Bangladesh, Columbia and Pakistan. One of them, Maria Garcia-Zuniga, a cleaner who had been working in Britain illegally for over a decade, parted with £2,000 to remain here after being told that Mr. Farooq was ‘her solicitor and she did not need anyone else to help’. Her frustration with the lack of help she received led to her filing a report with the police, resulting in the pair being arrested.

Both have been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, as the charge against Ms. Patel of laundering £73,000 in criminal property was dropped earlier due to an aborted trial.