• Wednesday, February 28, 2024

UK News

British Airways supervisor on the run in India over visa racket: Report

FILE PHOTO: British Airways planes are seen at the Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, July 17, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

By: Shajil Kumar

British police are working with their Indian counterparts to trace a British Airways supervisor believed to be on the run in India after his role in an alleged £3 million visa scam from over five years came to light, according to a UK media report on Tuesday.

‘The Sun’ newspaper reports that the unnamed 24-year-old suspect worked at Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport and is said to have charged customers £25,000 per trip to abuse a loophole and fly them across the British Airways (BA) network without crucial visa documents.

The man reportedly vanished with his partner – a BA ground services staffer – after he was arrested on January 6 and released on bail.

He is believed to have flown out to India where he has reportedly bought several properties.

The suspect got clients, mainly from India, to fly to the UK on a temporary visitor visa then helped them fly to Canada and other countries, the daily reports. UK-based asylum claimants who feared being returned to their country of origin were also his clients.

The scam came to light after Canadian authorities raised an alarm when most BA flights to Toronto or Vancouver had passengers immediately declare asylum.

An investigation into the issue discovered that all passengers were checked in by the same man who wrongly verified the travellers had an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) to enter a chosen country. An ETA can be applied for by a passenger only in their country of origin and therefore should have been rejected.

“He exploited a loophole knowing that immigration checks are no longer carried out by officials but are left to airline staff,” ‘The Sun’ newspaper quoted a source as saying.

“By inputting wrong data, and claiming eTA documents had been secured, he got people to countries they had no permission to enter in the first place. On arrival, the bogus passengers would shred their documents and claim asylum. Many jetted to Britain to pay him to get them to Canada,” the source said, adding that the full extent of the scam remains unknown.

“We’re assisting the authorities with their investigation,” a BA spokesperson said.

There has been a rise in cases of Indians trying to illegally migrate to foreign shores, especially the US. They try to enter the US either through Canada in the north or from Mexico in the south.

Last December, a flight from Dubai to Nicaragua with 303 passengers on board, all from India, was stopped by authorities in France’s Vatry airport over suspicions of human trafficking. After questioning the passengers, the flight was rerouted to Mumbai. (PTI)

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