Gang jailed for forging documents including CSCS cards so illegal immigrants could work in the UK.
A gang of seven who supplied fake ID documents, including passports and CSCS cards, to illegal immigrants has been jailed for a total of 16 years - an average of just over two years and three months each.
The gang was caught in an operation led by the Home Office Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal & Financial Investigation (CFI) Team.
From late 2015 until June 2017, officers gathered evidence that led to the conviction of seven men from Coventry, Nottingham, Redditch and London.
Over the course of their investigation, the officers unearthed wide-scale distribution of British passports, British residence permits, degree certificates and Constructions Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards – all of them fake. Prices ranged from £900 for a passport to £200 for a CSCS card or a degree certificate.
The gang was led by Steven Kanaventi, 39, of Mulliner Street, Coventry, and Alfred Adekoya, 47, of Kingslake Street, London. They were jailed at Woolwich Crown Court on 26 January and each sentenced to 3 years 4 months and 2 weeks in prison. They had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture a fake document at an earlier hearing.
Inspector Ben Thomas from CFI said: "The criminal business that Kanaventi and Adekoya were running was designed to undermine the fundamental immigration rule that if you have no legal status in the UK you have no right to work [here]. Their customers hoped that the fake documents would be enough to convince prospective employers that they were entitled to work, in turn allowing them to build a life for themselves in the UK to which they were simply not entitled.
"By bringing Kanaventi, Adekoya and their associates to justice we have stopped a concerted, systematic and financially motivated assault on the UK’s immigration system."
Adekoya was arrested on 20 June last year after making an exchange inside a betting shop in Woolwich with a 29-year-old man subsequently identified as Luke Nkanta. When Adekoya was stopped and searched shortly after the transaction had been made he was found in possession of three counterfeit British passports. Nkanta had an envelope containing a counterfeit British passport.
Also arrested on 20 June was Abdul Azeeza, 57. When officers raided his home they found him in possession of a fake residence permit, a fake passport and paraphernalia used in the manufacture of fake ID documents, including specially adapted tools for dismantling passports, threads for stitching, paint thinners and laminating equipment. He also had numerous orders for fake documents, some on his phone and some completed on betting slips.
Kanaventi was arrested at his home address just over a week later. On the same day (28 June) three accomplaces were arrested at their home addresses.
Ben Thomas said: "Steven Kanaventi was a particularly brazen operator, to the extent that his social media alias – Chris Namatchanga – was a clear play on words of ‘name changer’.
"Kanaventi was involved in every part of the Midlands operation. He set the prices, he placed the orders with his forger Ariyo and he was even caught on CCTV posting the counterfeit documents to his customers."
Like Adekoya and Steven Kanaventi, the other men had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
Following the convictions, CFI was trying to recover £135,000 in a bank account belonging to one of the men under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act.