Fake fathers scam to grant residency to irregular immigrants

Up to 10 thousand liras were paid to allow illegal immigrant women to get a residence permit by pretending to be the father of their children. It’s happening in the UK and this is revealed by a BBC investigation that uncovered the ruse used by a few mothers who were desperately trying to obtain a residence permit upon arrival. It seems that although the Ministry of Interior tries to control the phenomenon, there are a few cases and they also manage to circumvent the system by using social networks such as Facebook to advertise themselves.

If an immigrant woman is illegally in the UK and gives birth to a child whose father is a British citizen (or man with a residence permit), the child is British by birth. This then allows the mother to apply for a family visa, which will give her the right to stay in the country and apply for citizenship when the time comes. This is a scam that is taking place in various communities in the UK, which an investigation by BBC Newsnight has uncovered.

The work done by several agents with the task of recruiting men willing to lend to the scam was discovered behind the scam. An undercover reporter posing as a pregnant woman who was illegally in the country was able to talk to some of them. Among them, a man who calls himself Thai, said he had several people who could fake fatherhood for his child, and offered him a “complete package” for £11,000. He then introduced her to Andrew, who would charge him £8,000; When Thai was later questioned about her involvement, she denied any wrongdoing and said she “knew nothing about it”.

Ana González, an immigration lawyer, described the system as an “incredibly elaborate” process, noting that it was “very complex and incredibly difficult to control”. “In a way, this is proof of how helpless these women are,” González added. The lawyer said that the rule for a child to automatically acquire citizenship is “to protect children, not to issue visas to undocumented women. It should not be seen as a loophole”.

As for the size of the case, the BBC could not estimate its exact size. However, in 2022, 4,860 family visas were issued to ‘other dependents’, a category that includes applicants to stay in the UK as parents of children with citizenship. Given that deliberately providing false information on a birth certificate is a criminal offense, the Home Office told the BBC it is taking steps to prevent and detect immigration fraud. In particular, he said that “birth certificate alone may not be sufficient evidence to prove paternity” and that “additional evidence may be requested” in cases where paternity needs to be established.

But immigration lawyer Harjap Bhangal questioned whether adequate precautions had been taken: “There are potentially thousands of cases and the Ministry didn’t realize it.” Bhangal said that this practice, which has been going on for years, is common in various immigrant communities, especially in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.

The BBC investigation also revealed that the app was widely advertised in some Vietnamese Facebook groups allegedly set up mainly to help job seekers. There are several posts online where men are proposing paternity and migrant women are looking for fake dads to turn to.

Meta, which owns Facebook, said it does not allow “encouragement of birth certificate fraud” on its platform and will continue to remove content that violates its policies.

But things don’t always go well, even for immigrants. Some women had to pay to discover that the false father was instead an immigrant without citizenship. “I found out the day after I got my baby’s birth certificate. I was crazy because I had already written his details on the birth certificate and I couldn’t change it,” said one of them.

Bhangal argued that the Ministry of Home Affairs should pay more attention especially when dealing with suspicious situations. “If a child claims to be British and one parent has citizenship and the other does not have a visa, this should be the perfect case for a simple DNA test request.” Eventually, the lawyer found that very few people were actually prosecuted for this crime. “That’s why people do this, because they’re not afraid of any backlash,” the lawyer said.

Source: Today IT