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Solicitor jailed for selling fraudulent immigration advice

A bogus immigration lawyer with no licence to practise has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years for exploiting at least 19 victims for huge financial gain.

Flora Mendes, who had already been banned from practising law after a previous conviction, has had assets totalling more than £700,000 seized by the Home Office after her conviction recently (03 May 2024).

The Indian national, 45, duped her victims into thinking they were using the services of a legitimate immigration lawyer and promised to help secure them leave to remain in the UK.

Instead, the defendant submitted fraudulent applications with no chance of succeeding, in exchange for payment.

At St Albans Crown Court recently, Mendes was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years.

The fraudulent applications were identified by the Home Office and an investigation launched, which ultimately traced 19 bogus applications back to the defendant.

When handing down the heavy sentence, the Judge noted the defendant’s repeat offending.

Mendes had previously been struck off as a solicitor in 2015 after she was convicted of providing immigration advice whilst suspended from practising law.

Despite having no licence and a criminal record the defendant still attempted to game the immigration system by defrauding victims.

Minister for Illegal Migration, Michael Tomlinson MP, recently said:

This sentencing shows the effective and relentless work to dismantle the networks of people helping illegal migrants stay in the UK.

Those suspected of abusing our immigration system for profit will be swiftly brought to justice.

The Home Office is clamping down on crooked immigration lawyers by working closely with regulators, industry bodies and law enforcement to bring prosecutions against them.

To support this action, in August 2023 a new Professional Enablers Taskforce was established.

The action forms part of a nationwide increase in Home Office activity to tackle illegal migration. Enforcement visits rose by 68% last year and arrests more than doubled, while returns of people with no right to be in the UK increased to 26,000.

This week has also seen detentions begin ahead of the first flights to Rwanda in 9 to 11 weeks. The government’s Rwanda plan will deter vulnerable migrants from making perilous journeys across the Channel and ensure those who come to the UK illegally cannot stay.

Andrew Radcliffe of the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations team recently said:

The strong sentence is testament to our efforts to clamp down on these unregulated advisers through targeted operations.

I encourage all members of the public to flag any potential intelligence to us so we can follow it up accordingly.


Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/home-office

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/solicitor-jailed-for-selling-fraudulent-immigration-advice

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