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British Airways worker accused of £3m immigration scam flees to India

British Airways check-in desk in Terminal 5 Heathrow
British Airways check-in desk in Terminal 5 Heathrow

A British Airways employee has allegedly fled to India as a fugitive after masterminding a £3 million immigration scam from his check-in desk at Heathrow.

The airline official reportedly charged travellers £25,000 to allow them to board flights around the world without the correct visa documents permitting them to travel.

It is understood the man persuaded his clients, most of whom were from India, to fly to the UK on a temporary visitor visa before he made arrangements for them to travel elsewhere.

The unnamed suspect, said to be a 24-year-old man based at Terminal 5, is said to have made up to £3 million from the “ingenuous” scam before he was arrested last month when Canadian authorities raised the alarm.

Officials had reportedly grown suspicious over the years after passengers landing at Toronto or Vancouver on board British Airways flights immediately declared asylum on their arrival.

But after he was arrested and bailed the man reportedly fled to India, where he is said to own multiple homes, with his partner who also worked for British Airways.

The pair no longer work for the airline.

‘Ingenious plan’

A source told The Sun newspaper the man falsely verified travellers had an eTA – an electronic travel authorisation – required by foreign nationals to enter Canada.

Describing it as an “ingenuous plan”, they told The Sun: “He exploited a loophole knowing that immigration checks are no longer carried out by officials but are left to airline staff.

“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.

“It was an ingenious plan which has made him millions over the years – no-one knows yet the full extent of what’s gone on.”

The Home Office confirmed an investigation had been launched and that it would be “inappropriate” to comment while it is ongoing.

Police are said to be now working with Indian authorities to try and trace the man.

The Metropolitan Police told The Telegraph it was a matter for the Home Office.

A British Airways spokesman said: “We are assisting the authorities with their investigation.”