WARNING: Asif Niaz holds a picture of himself and his wife, Sonia, who he has not seen since March 2015
WARNING: Asif Niaz holds a picture of himself and his wife, Sonia, who he has not seen since March 2015

Sham marriage victim wants others to learn from his example

A Leeds man, who says he fell victim to an immigration marriage fraud whilst travelling in Pakistan two years ago, is warning others to be vigilant when searching for their future wife.

54-year-old Asif Niaz was falsely accused of rape, had money stolen from him, and claims he was forced to payout over £17,000 after his wedding in September 2013, as his life was turned upside down.

Having only recently started to ‘get over the ordeal’, he is now determined to prevent others from making the same mistakes he has.

“Learn from my mistakes,” he said. “My family told me about her but I did not listen. I didn’t want to believe what they were telling me but this woman only married me so she could get access to, and stay in, the UK.

“I look back on the experience now and think I am lucky in a way that the only thing I lost was some jewellery and money. It could have been much worse. It was a marriage of convenience for her.

“Now that she is gone, I just want to get my life back together.”

Asif says he believes he was the victim of immigration marriage fraud after meeting his wife-to-be, Sonia Niaz, in the Pir Mahal region of the Punjab, Pakistan, back in March 2013.

From their first meeting on the street, said he was asked to marry her yet declined as he ‘did not know her’ and rather took her out around Pakistan.

SONY DSCAfter a couple of months, Asif believed Sonia could be his wife and so eventually agreed to marry her as is more accustomed in his culture.

“The whole nikah was a bit strange,” he said. “There were no family and friends just us at Sonia’s home, but if that is what she wanted, that is what we were going to do.”

He added: “She repeatedly told me she had never been married before despite my cousin and friends saying she had two previous marriages.

“It turns out she had been married twice yet neither one had lasted.

“One husband took her to Dubai and she was deported back within months and the other had also divorced her within three months.”

Asif, who was living in Ireland at the time, moved back to his adopted nation in November 2013 with Sonia, where they lived at Asif’s house.

However, the residence did not last long as Sonia fled just three months later.

“It was the week commencing Valentine’s Day when she ran off back to Pakistan,” he said. “I thought it was strange, she took all her jewellery I had bought her and a sum of cash. I had spent thousands of pounds on her and she just disappeared.

“When I finally contacted her she said she was happier over there but within three days she called back and told me to come and get her.

“I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She had come from a poor family and to move into a large home in Ireland, away from her family must have been hard I thought.

“My family told me then to just let her go but I travelled over to Pakistan in April to begin working on getting her papers for Ireland again.

“She never gave me a reason as to why she ran away but I always thought it was because she was intimidated by the way of life away from Pakistan.”

In September 2014, the couple finally returned to their home in Ireland and went to the immigration centre to get Sonia’s passport stamped for her right to stay in the country.

She was granted a five year VISA and Asif says she almost immediately had her eyes set on the next location.

“Within a week of getting the passport stamped she wanted go to England,” he said. “I have family in Birmingham so was happy to go see them and my son and his wife joined us on the trip from Ireland.

“It was nothing but trouble from there. She repeatedly used foul and abusive language when speaking to my family and my daughter told me Sonia had said she is leaving me.

“I didn’t believe her. We decided to move out and went to Bradford in January where everything was fine and then we moved once again to Armley in March 2015.

“This is where the real trouble started.”

On 3rd March Asif says Sonia ripped up all her travel documents during an argument at the family home as she told him she had used him for entry to the UK.

Asif says he was confused with the situation as he watched his wife tear up the papers, including pages out of her passport, which had cost in excess of £17,000 over the past 18 months.

“I told her to calm down and left the house to clear my head,” he said. “About half an hour later I returned and she was smiling.

“She had called the police and told them I had kept her against her will in the house, tied her up and raped her. She accused me of ripping up all these documents. I had spent so much on them just for her.

“The police came and smashed down the doors. They took me into the police station for questioning and I spent the night there.”

Asif has not seen his wife since that date and was cleared of all charges in July.

Today he says he believes she is living illegally in Bradford, and has not heard from the immigration centre where Sonia is supposed to check in.

“She is a selfish, inconsiderate and heartless person who tricks people into believing she is somebody else,” he said.

“From start to end this was a well organised crime and deception for the sake of coming to the UK and being able to obtain permanent residency and a British passport. I have now had her five year VISA revoked because initially that was for the Republic of Ireland.

“Hopefully people will read my story and not make the same mistakes I have. She tried to ruin my life.”