Brides Paid to Enter into Illegal Marriages

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An investigation has revealed a spate of sham weddings between African immigrants and Scottish heroin addicts.

The women were offered payments of up to £2000 to marry Ghanaian strangers who would then be able to stay and work in the UK.

Ms ‘X’ was the ‘mastermind’ behind this scam and worked closely with African gangsters to arrange the fake marriages.

Along with her partner, Ms X looked for the bogus brides from a deprived Scottish housing estate.  The penniless women were exploited and sometimes bullied and promised easy cash to enter into illegal marriages.

Passports were taken away from the women and these were falsely used to claim housing benefits by the fraudsters.  The passports have still not been returned to the rightful owners.

The ‘Wedding Planner’

Ms X used to set up the meetings and acted as a witness for the wedding ceremony.  She even took wedding photos and organised the flowers.

The ‘wedding planner’ even underwent a fake marriage herself by wedding an African who was seeking a passport in 2006.

She even went to the extent of persuading her own daughter who had recently given birth to marry a stranger.

Ms X has undergone many name changes over the years and has already spent time behind bars.  She now faces a lengthy stretch in jail for her cruel conspiracy.

The fake wedding scam was brought to light by the register office workers who then sent the Record to the Home Office Immigration Department.

A register office source said: “This scam was hardly subtle yet it had gone of for years.  Ms X was the fixer but she is a vulgar loudmouth who draws attention to herself. 

“She would turn up at the ceremonies and run the show in her own unique style, all foul mouthed and abrasive with the people getting married.

“It was obvious that these marriages were fake it’s incredible they got away with it.  The girls were so strung out and they were confused and terrified.

“It was clear that their world had so little in common with the men they were marrying.  As far as Ms X was concerned, she felt she just had to get them to the ceremony in one piece and prop them up long enough to say, ‘I do’.

“Then she would move on to coax or threaten someone else into getting her a big payday”

Over a Period of 15 Years

Investigations are in motion to ascertain when she made her first contact with the African gangsters, which is believed to have been almost 15 years ago when she married a Moroccan man in 1993.  It is not known if or when that particular marriage ended.

The fake wedding scam has centred on African men who already have temporary leave to study in Britain or asylum seekers. 

By having a member of the African gangster gang named ‘the fixer’ brides were purchased from Ms X where she in turn made the wedding arrangements among several register offices.

After a two year period the men would be entitled to apply for their own permanent UK passport and would then be free to divorce their fake bride.  This would give them the legal right to marry women of their own choice, who in turn could apply for their own UK passport.

Bogus Polish Brides

Last year The People’s newspaper discovered the racket of polish girls who were making up to £8000 by entering into phoney marriages to illegal immigrants who were desperate to stay in Britain.

These sham weddings were a quick and lazy way of obtaining quick cash for women who came to the UK legally as EU citizens from Poland, Slovakia and Lithuania.

Unscrupulous middlemen put the women in touch with non-EU nationals who were in the country against the law and the couples slipped away to get married abroad away from the scrutiny of the UK authorities.

The ‘grooms’ can then legally stay in the UK and claim benefits and housing which in turn rips off taxpayers.

The racket was brought to light when a People investigator posed as an illegal Albanian migrant and with hardly any effort he found four polish women eager to marry him for a price.

One such woman was 23 year old Katarzyna Machnio who worked as a nanny and told the undercover reporter that she was ready to go through with a sham ceremony for a price of £3,500.  She added that she would not tell her boyfriend because "He'd kill me if he found out," she joked.

She then produced a handwritten contract which read "Marriage is only on paper. We don't have to live together” and then she begged for £200 in advance.

Katarzyna’s best friend Katrina Kowalski, 22 asked the reported to find her another Albanian who was willing to pay her to marry him.   Katrina joked: "If your friend is rich I will charge him more - maybe £4,500. Why not? This is business."

The newspaper tracked down adverts in shops and local newspapers that were used in the setting up of the bogus marriages.

Before 2005 foreignes from outside the EU could marry a British or EU citizen by turning up at the register office, but the Asylum and Immigration Act has now made it harder for them and they need permission from the Home Office.

Because of this, registrars have reported a fall in sham marriages from 3,700 in 2004 to fewer than 300 last year.

This is not however a true figure because illegal immigrants and crooked EU nationals are bypassing the Home Office by marrying in one of their home countries.  It is just then a formality to gain a permit to stay in the UK.