British Airways supervisor fled to India after running immigration scam from LHR

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A former British Airways check-in supervisor is under investigation after reportedly orchestrating an immigration scam amounting to £3 million ($3.84 million). 

The unnamed 24-year-old suspect worked at Terminal 5 at London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) and is said to have charged £25,000 ($32,000) per passenger to circumvent a loophole in the system and allow them to board British Airways flights to Canada without the necessary visa documents.

Once the passengers arrived in Canada, they would apply for asylum status. 

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a person can claim asylum at a Canadian airport. Under current Canadian immigration laws, a person needs to show that they cannot return to their country of nationality or residence because they fear persecution for at least one of the following reasons: 

  • Race or nationality
  • Religion
  • Member of a particular social group
  • Political opinion
  • Risk to your life or cruel and inhuman treatment 
  • Risk of torture

Suspicions were raised when Canadian officials observed a disproportionate number of passengers on British Airways flights from LHR would immediately declare asylum upon arrival at either Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) or Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Media outlet The Times reported that the majority of the asylum seekers were Indian nationals who were advised to first fly to the United Kingdom under a temporary visa, before getting on a flight to Canada.

The suspect was arrested on January 6, 2024, but was released upon settling bail. He then fled to India with his partner, also a British Airways ground services employee. The airline terminated both of the workers’ contracts.  

UK Border Force and police are currently working with Indian authorities to track down the pair.

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