Food delivery companies are being urged to carry out more detailed checks on their drivers, as authorities report a huge increase in undocumented immigrants exploiting rules to work in the delivery sector.
GB News has been told that many legitimate riders will often rent out their accounts to illegal immigrants to make more money.
Immigration Enforcement officers have launched a major crackdown on the scam, with raids and special operations in towns and cities across the UK.
Hundreds of people have been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences in recent weeks.
An image of an undocumented immigrant working as a food delivery driver
Home Office officials said working in the underground economy was a “major pull-factor” for those embarking on often dangerous illegal journeys to the UK.
In Brighton, immigration teams mounted a joint operation with Sussex police, targeting rogue riders across the city.
Officers said that just five years ago, they dealt with a handful of illegal immigrants working in the gig economy.
Now undocumented migrants working as delivery drivers has become one of Immigration Enforcement’s major target areas.
An image of food delivery bikes
Tano Grima, Assistant Director at Immigration Enforcement’s Southeast unit said: “There's a lot of intelligence about the harm that illegal working, particularly in the gig economy is causing. It's denying legitimate employers and employees their rights, and it's harming the UK economy by way of avoidance of tax.
“They're undercutting legitimate employers and they're undercutting legitimate employees.”
As GB News filmed, officers pulled over a Brazilian delivery rider, who tried to evade them by heading the wrong way up a one-way street.
Tano Grima said that background checks had indicated it was likely he was in the country illegally.
“We've established that he's a Brazilian national that arrived in the UK in February of this year. We're undertaking some further investigation around what immigration offences he's likely to have committed.
“But the early indications are that he's working in breach of his entry conditions to the UK.”
Up near Brighton seafront, other officers stopped an Indonesian national driving a delivery moped.
Background checks revealed he was living here illegally with his Indonesian wife, who was also arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.
However, it is understood the couple have a young child, which could complicate efforts to detain and remove the couple.
Home deliveries are an every day feature in the lives of the majority of people in the UK and there those who feel asylum seekers in particular should be allowed to work here while their claims are being assessed.
An image of a police officer and immigration officer addressing an undocumented food delivery worker
But Assistant Director Grima said the prospect of working in the underground economy was encouraging many to embark on potentially dangerous journeys that risked ending in tragedy.
“Illegal working is a major pull factor for illegal migration into the UK. If you know you're coming to the UK with a job, you're more likely to travel here illegally and also undertake potentially unsafe journeys. It really is a major issue for us.”
In recent months, major delivery companies like Deliveroo and Just Eat have improved their cooperation with the Home Office.
But officials want them and other firms to do far more to enhance their employee checks and ensure those who arrive at the door with home deliveries are who they say they are.