The group found in a shipping container at Tilbury Docks were "duped", the former head of the UK Border Force said.
Tony Smith told Good Morning Britain that the Afghani Sikhs will have been "promised something, reasonably plausible, that 'if you pay me a certain amount of money I can get you into the UK, you will have a better life.'"
"It's massive fraud," he said.
The uncle of dead Afghan immigrant Meet Singh Kapoor says he wanted a better life for his children. Instead his children watched him die.
ITV News has spoken to the translator police used after 35 Afghan Sikhs, including 13 children, were found in a boat in Tilbury Docks.
ITV News has obtained exclusive footage of people, believed to be Afghan Sikhs, being released from a shipping container at Tilbury Docks.