An Albanian economic migrant has revealed how easily he was able to play the UK refugee system with crude lies – and win permission to live here legally for three years.
Geri Bucr, 25, has revealed how he ‘blagged’ his way into the country using an Italian passport – even though he didn’t speak the language – then claimed to British immigration officials that his life was at risk as he was the victim of a ‘blood feud’ who would be in danger if returned home.
He was given permission to stay while his made-up story was investigated and managed to stay three years until he was finally deported. In the meantime he was able to get work paying ten times what he could make in his home country.
Now back in the central Albanian town of Burrel where he grew up, Bucr is working in a local restaurant, which is popular with youngsters planning to travel to the UK illegally.
Geri Bucr, 25, pictured, has revealed how he ‘blagged’ his way into the country using an Italian passport – even though he didn’t speak the language – then claimed to British immigration officials that his life was at risk as he was the victim of a ‘blood feud’ who would be in danger if returned home
Swapping the latest Tik Tok videos which reveal the best routes from the French coast to Britain his pals are keen to hear about how he managed to get into the country and earn £150 a day or more working in restaurants and building sites.
As a European Union candidate country, Albanians are free to travel across the continent to northern France without any visa restrictions and once out of the country many head to the Channel port of Dunkirk to get onto a small boat bound for Britain.
But Bucr told MailOnline how his journey was far simpler and quicker after he managed to tell a string of lies and pay out £4,000 to organised criminals to obtain an Italian passport which enabled him to fly straight to Britain.
Bucr said: ‘I borrowed some money to buy the Italian passport which was genuine and had all the biometrics and I picked it up in Milan. It’s easy for Albanians to get into Italy so that wasn’t a problem.
‘What I didn’t want to do was fly from Milan to the UK just in case one of the Italian passport guys asked me questions and I don’t speak Italian so I travelled to Croatia and flew to London from there.’
The passport was ‘genuine’ but illegally obtained as it had Bucr’s bogus details and photograph on it, after an Italian scammer made the application in his name.
He was given permission to stay while his made-up story was investigated and managed to stay three years until he was finally deported. In the meantime he was able to get work paying ten times what he could make in his home country. Pictured: Geri
After getting the document Bucr explained: ‘I knew people were using trucks and boats were just starting to be the new way across but they were expensive and they are also dangerous so my way was cheaper and safer.
‘Once in London I told the UK officials that my life was in danger and I was the victim of a feud, with people trying to kill me. It was just rubbish and they let me in for three years.
‘I used the false Italian passport to get into the country and then claimed asylum in my own name.
‘I lived in Ealing Broadway and I got work there in some restaurants and building sites, I had a good time and I was earning good money.
‘In the UK I was getting £150 a day while if I stayed in Burrel I would be lucky to make £15 a day and that’s if I could find a job.’
He is guarded about how his lucrative life in London came to an end but it’s believed it may have come about after his name came back to the attention of the immigration authorities when he became involved in crime. Pictured: A boat-load of Albanian migrants
He is guarded about how his lucrative life in London came to an end but it’s believed it may have come about after his name came back to the attention of the immigration authorities when he became involved in crime . It’s believed he was then deported because of this before any final decision was made on whether to grant him refugee status on the basis of his fake story about being in danger.
All Bucr will say on this subject is that he ‘made the mistake of getting mixed up with the wrong crowd’.
He went on: ‘I did some things I shouldn’t have so I was deported back to Albania. Now I’m back here and at least I’ve managed to get a job but the money is nothing like the UK.
‘I’ve now been banned from entering Britain for ten years and if I do try and get back, which is tempting but if I’m caught I could go to prison for two years so I need to think hard about it.’
Initially when the crisis of illegal migration from Albania began it was trucks that were the preferred method although the asking price was £20,000 but now with small boats costing just £3,000 there has been a surge in numbers.
UK officials revealed last month that 12,000 Albanians had entered the country illegally so far this year and MailOnline has established that around 2,000 have come from Burrel and the surrounding impoverished region of Mat.
Standing next to a well worn sign saying ‘Welcome to Burrel’ Ismet, 17, pictured, is one of many teenagers planning a move to the UK
Standing next to a well worn sign saying ‘Welcome to Burrel’ Ismet, 17, is one of many teenagers planning a move to the UK.
He told MailOnline:’ Five of my friends have all gone to Britain this year and they all went across on boats. They travelled to France and waited in camps until they were told to get into a boat and now they are in the UK.
‘I want to go and join them – none of them was caught and they are now in the Albanian community in your country being looked after by family and friends who will find them jobs.
‘They normally get jobs as drivers or end up in car washes or building sites, maybe doing painting jobs as well, they are all hard working but I know some end up working for the bad guys.’
To emphasise the point, he pulled out his mobile phone and showed MailOnline a video he had been sent by a friend in the UK showing a cannabis farm inside a house known as ‘grows’.
Pictured: A travel agent sign in Burrel advertising London as a destination
Ismet said: ‘Some of them do end up looking after these places, making sure the plants are looked after and also making sure other gangs don’t try and steal the drugs. I hear it can be dangerous and I don’t want to get involved with that. I want to find safe work.
‘I’m going to borrow the money to get across from my family and then when I get to England and find work I will pay them back and the money will also help my parents improve the house.
‘Everyone in Burrel and the surrounding area has family in the UK and they send the money back to Albania to build new houses for their families.
‘There is nothing here for me, I’ve finished school and I have no prospects, I could get a job and earn maybe 1,000 Lek (£7.45) a day if I’m lucky – I could earn ten times that in the UK.
‘In my class at school in the last year there were 30 students when we finished now of those only 17 are still in Burrel, the others have all gone to the UK. There are hardly any young people in Burrel anymore.’
The cafes in Burrel – which is the home of former King Zog who lived in exile in Britain during the Second World War – are predominantly full of old men with very few below 40 visible.
Among those sipping coffee and smoking were Kujtim, 62, pictured left, a welder wearing a ‘London’ cap who revealed his son Leonardo had entered the UK illegally eight years ago in the back of a lorry
Among those sipping coffee and smoking were Kujtim, 62, a welder wearing a ‘London’ cap who revealed his son Leonardo had entered the UK illegally eight years ago in the back of a lorry.
He told MailOnline:’ I wear this hat because it reminds me of my son in London. He’s my only child and I miss him but we both know he had no option but to go to England.
‘Leonardo works as a painter and decorator and he looks after his dad and he sends me what he can and he has been told he can stay in England until next year when he will apply again.
‘He borrowed money from his aunt to get into the UK in a truck and last month I was so happy because he came to visit me for the first time in years.
‘I’m on my own because my wife and his mother died, she was very ill and the money Leonardo earned from his jobs he would send to us for medical bills but sadly she didn’t make it.
‘There was nothing for him here so he left on a truck when he was 25 years old and he’s been back only a couple of times to Burrel but if I was a youngster I would also be leaving here.
‘The UK is a much better place to live and find work – that’s why all the young people leave her to better themselves because there are no opportunities.
‘The streets of Burrel are empty of young people they are all in London, my friends tells me they have grandchildren who have gone to the UK on small boats, it looks dangerous but sometimes you have to take risks to better your life.’
To try and stem the flow Britain is funding an £8.3 million programme over four years which aims to counter the Tik Tok videos and other social media adverts promoting cut price travel from France to the UK for illegal immigrants. Pictured: Women in Burrel
Launched by ambassador Alastair King-Smith the aim is to help young Albanians find jobs and train them in computing and languages so they can be an asset to their country – and not the criminal gangs in the UK. Pictured: Burrel
To try and stem the flow Britain is funding an £8.3 million programme over four years which aims to counter the Tik Tok videos and other social media adverts promoting cut price travel from France to the UK for illegal immigrants.
Launched by ambassador Alastair King-Smith the aim is to help young Albanians find jobs and train them in computing and languages so they can be an asset to their country – and not the criminal gangs in the UK.
In a video broadcast on TV news the diplomat warned:’ My message to anyone thinking of travelling to the UK illegally is wait. Don’t go now and don’t risk your life. What you are shown on social media is not reality. Stay here and apply for a visa legally.
‘Don’t travel illegally. My message to parents and families is this. Criminals and traffickers are exploiting your children and forcing them into the path of crime. Don’t let them leave.’
But after watching the video Ismet simply shrugged his shoulders and said:’ That’s not going to stop me and that’s not going to stop my friends. We will still go.’
English teacher Lindita Beqiri, pictured, who lives in Burrel, told MailOnline how she had seen an influx in students wanting private language tuition in recent months
English teacher Lindita Beqiri, who lives in Burrel, told MailOnline how she had seen an influx in students wanting private language tuition in recent months.
She said: ‘ I’ve had lots of enquiries from young people wanting to learn English, it all started a few months ago and the students openly tell me they are planning to go to the UK.
‘They all have friends or family there and they have been told how to get across on the small boats and once they are there they can find a job and make money.
‘There is no future for them here so that’s why they all want to go to England, who would want to stay here and work for a few pounds a day when you could get £100 a day in London.
‘Here in Burrel there are no good jobs and there is no prospect of getting one and making any money, all the young guys just want to go to Britain and make money there.
‘England needs people to work there so I don’t see why they just don’t make it easier for Albanians to get there instead of having to risk their lives in small boats.
‘All of my friends have children that want to go to England and they want teaching so they can make themselves understood when they get there, if they can speak English it will get them a job.’
Overhearing our conversation in a coffee bar, a waiter approached us and struck up conversation, refusing to disclose his name the man revealed how he had also recently been deported from the UK. Pictured: Burrel
Overhearing our conversation in a coffee bar, a waiter approached us and struck up conversation, refusing to disclose his name the man revealed how he had also recently been deported from the UK.
He told MailOnline:’ I can get to France easily because there are no visa requirements because Albania is applying to join the European Union.
‘I got to Dunkirk and just asked about there are plenty of Kurds and Albanian middlemen there offering trips across the Channel or you message them on Facebook or TikTok.
‘I had money from my family and I paid half and then I was to pay the people smugglers the rest when I get to Britain. I would have got a job in construction or on a (cannabis) grow both are easy to find.
‘There was about 20 people in my boat and when we reached England no one saw us and the group just ran into the town.
‘I had the number of someone in Oxford and made my way there and I was looking for work but a few days after I arrived there was a raid by the immigration people and I was deported.
‘I’m now working in Burrel to pay the smugglers back what I owe and also to save up money again because I will try again, even though I know I could be jailed if I’m caught.’
Ralf Gjoni, a former Albanian MP and Managing partner of Global Pro Group, which provides legal workers to the UK blamed the Home Office for the crisis. Pictured: Men in Burrel
Ralf Gjoni, a former Albanian MP and Managing partner of Global Pro Group, which provides legal workers to the UK blamed the Home Office for the crisis.
He told MailOnline:’ It’s a scandalous failure from the British authorities to manage the visa scenario, especially after Brexit, and it is unfair to blame the Albanians for the current situation.
‘Britain has failed to handle Brexit properly and now there are shortages in the workforce for drivers, nurses, IT people and care workers and they don’t have the people to fill these vacancies.
‘If the work visa (regime) was better handled then the result would be much better but the Home Office has failed to liberalise it and so you get an increase in the numbers crossing illegally.
‘In my view, The majority are mainly economic migrants from northern Albania because that part of the country is very poor but they are industrious and hard working.
‘But at the same time they know they can’t go legally so they travel illegally and when they get there they claim asylum on baseless grounds and which the Home Office believe and subsequently the authorities prolong and delay the entire chain of handling asylum claims which has resulted in the current backlog.
‘This would be so easy to resolve but the British seem to make it harder for people who want to work and who have the skills to get into the country legally. This mindset has to change.
‘In my humble view, the UK authorities have failed to control their borders properly and to try and make up for the mess they paint the Albanians negatively for these problems.
‘It boils down to the fact that Britain wanted Brexit but they didn’t know how to handle it and this is what it looks like – a real mess of shortages and illegal migration.
Pictured: Houses in the valley of Muzhak, Burrel. Th remote village has been built by the proceeds of Albanian migrants in the UK sending money money back to their families
‘As per reports that the majority are single fit men, I am not sure of the statistics but if it were confirmed by the Home Office, then I could only explain it in light of local cultural dynamics of a paternalistic society, where the men take the first dangerous step into the unknown in order to protect their wives and sisters from the dangers of crossing. But the numbers have to be confirmed officially first.
‘None of this would be happening if there was a sensible work visa process in place.
‘Frankly I do not understand why the Home Office is not sending those who cross the border illegally back home, especially when the level of cooperation between London and Tirana is excellent.
‘While Albania may have a thousand and one problems of poverty, corruption and injustices, it is a NATO member and a safe country.
‘The reality is that the UK has a labour force shortage and there are thousands of people here in Albania willing to come and work there to fill these vacancies but the process to get a UK visa is appalling and humiliating.’