Page last updated at 18:29 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Men jailed for UK citizenship fraud in Sheffield

Clockwise from top left: Mohammed Yousif, Abdi Rashif Yusuf, Mustafa Yassin and Mubarak Yusuf
The court heard the men charged up to 1,000 for the certificates

Three directors of a Sheffield education centre who sat citizenship exams for immigrants in exchange for cash have been jailed.

Abdi Yusuf, 37, Mohammed Yousif, 34, and Mustafa Yassin, 29, directors of City Wide Learning (CWL), provided pass certificates to people across the UK.

The men, all from Sheffield, were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the UK Border Agency at Sheffield Crown Court.

Five other men who colluded with them have also been sentenced.

The court heard Yusuf, Yousif and Yassin provided certificates for customers from cities including Belfast, Glasgow, London, Birmingham and Liverpool.

More than 5,000 test certificates were issued by CWL between October 2005 and February 2007. CWL has now closed.

'Intricate operation'

South Yorkshire Police spent three years investigating complaints relating to CWL's operation of the Life in the UK test.

The exam, which tests English language skills and knowledge of life in the UK, is necessary for all immigrants wanting to secure a UK citizenship since the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

Detectives said they were informed in 2006 that CWL was providing pass certificates for a fee, thought to be between £250 and £1,000.

They found CWL had a 88% first time pass rate compared with a 66% rate nationally.

The force said there were indications many candidates who took advantage of the fraud had failed at other UK centres.

The CWL office
The business has now closed

Yusuf and Yousif were jailed for three-and-a-half years and Yassin was jailed for a two-and-a-half years.

Mubarak Yusuf, Mehmet Ince, and Halil Dari and were also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the UK Border Agency.

CWL administrator Mubarak Yusuf, 28, from Sheffield, was jailed for 15 months and Ince, 37, from London, was jailed for two years.

Dari, 35, from Sheffield, will be sentenced at a later date.

Shpetim Ymeri, 37, from London, pleaded guilty to the same charge and was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and was ordered to do 200 hours of community service.

Mohammad Jafari, 36, from Birmingham, pleaded guilty and was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to do 200 hours of community service.

Ince, Dari, Ymeri and Jafari acted as go-betweens for the company.

Det Con Adrian Ward, from South Yorkshire Police, said: "This national operation has been long and intricate.

"These men ran their business illegally, allowing people to falsely claim documents, which have affected people up and down the country."

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