Around 50 officers from the UK Border Agency, Metropolitan Police and other agencies targeted 8 addresses across the Forest Gate area of east London in a series of dawn raids. The operation resulted in the arrest of 2 men and 6 women on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law and obtaining benefits and passports by deception. All those arrested were aged between 18 and 48.
Those arrested are now in police custody pending further investigations. Among the items recovered were a number of fake passports and about £1,600 in cash.
More raids are due to take place in the next few days.
Officers believe the alleged scam was operated by a ringleader who deliberately brought foreign nationals into the UK in an attempt to defraud the UK benefit system.
The operation was led by the UK Border Agency’s London immigration crime team which works closely with the Metropolitan Police and other law enforcement agencies.
Chief Immigration Officer Jon Bradbourne, from the UK Border Agency’s London Immigration Crime Team, said:
‘My message to those who seek to break the law in London is clear – we now have a formidable team specialising in immigration related criminality. We will investigate most rigorously those people who seek to abuse the hospitality of the UK and commit crime.
‘The arrest of this group is a result of close collaboration between a number of partner agencies including ourselves, the Department for Work and Pensions, Passport Office, local authorities and the Met Police.’