Four operators of a south London business which charged people £2,000 for advice on immigration have been given prison sentences for fraud following a prosecution brought by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).

Swaye Binns, 39, of Croxted Road, Dulwich was the founder and chief executive of Commonwealth Evaluators Ltd, a Croydon company which advertised ‘legal services’ to Commonwealth citizens despite having no qualified lawyers. It made untrue claims that it was authorised by the OISC and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  

Clients were falsely told that their position as Commonwealth citizens provided an automatic right of abode in the UK. However, unknown to these clients, Binns himself was an illegal overstayer and the subject of a deportation order resulting from a conviction in 2003. The OISC traced more than 260 clients who had been duped sometimes out of their life savings. 

Swaye Binns was sentenced to four years in prison at Croydon Crown Court. His twin brother Sheldon Binns was sentenced to 10 months suspended for 14 months and 150 hours of unpaid work; manager Tara Robinson was sentenced to 20 months suspended for two years and 280 hours of unpaid work and Donald Hill, director, was sentenced to a Community Service Order of 100 hours.

Commonwealth Evaluators Ltd. was fined a notional £100 and will be struck off from the Companies Register on 19 August 2018. At the conclusion of his prison sentence the deportation order against Swaye Binns will be activated.

Sentencing, Her Honour Judge Smaller said: 'Commonwealth Evaluators was a professional looking company with an impressive looking website. That is not a compliment. It outlines the sophisticated nature of the fraud. I have no doubt that clients of the company were under the impression that they were receiving the services of lawyers. Your company was not qualified from the outset and you knew that.’