Former British Airways employee 'ran multi-million pound immigration scam from Heathrow'

A British Airways plane.
Credit: PA

A former British Airways (BA) employee fled to India after he was accused of masterminding a multi-million pound immigration scam from Heathrow Airport.

Police arrested a 24-year-old man on January 6, alleging that he charged people £25,000 each to help them illegally enter Canada from the UK, The Times reported.

So-called "customers" - most of whom were Indian citizens - were told to fly into the UK on a temporary visitor visa.

They would then book flights to Canada despite not having a visa - as required for Indian nationals who are unable to enter Canada under the ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) scheme.

The newspaper reported that at this stage, people would be directed to a check-in desk at Heathrow operated by the alleged offender, who would override the system and claim to have seen proof of an eligible visa.

Police suspect he ensured he was rostered to be on the air-side team who processed passengers at the boarding gate.

The scam was allegedly carried out from Heathrow Airport. Credit: PA

After making it into Canada, passengers would immediately make an asylum claim.

The scheme was reportedly discovered after Canadian officials became suspicious of a pattern that appeared to show passengers on BA flights to Toronto or Vancouver arriving without a visa to claim asylum.

When police bailed the man last month, he abandoned his life in the UK and flew to India with his partner, who also worked for BA.

BA said it has terminated the employment of both staff members.

Police from both the UK and India - which share an extradition treaty - are now working in partnership to track down and arrest the unnamed pair.

In a statement, BA said: "We are assisting the authorities with their investigation."

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