‘Five face court over alleged fraudulent marriage scam’

‘Five face court over alleged fraudulent marriage scam’

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The Australian Border Force (ABF) has shut down an elaborate contrived marriages syndicate operating out of Sydney. A 32-year-old Indian national faced court on 30 October over his alleged role as the main facilitator.

A further four Australian citizens have also been charged for allegedly convincing individuals to fraudulently marry non-citizens seeking to obtain permanent residency.

The long running operation by the ABF also resulted in 164 foreign nationals having their applications for a Partner visa refused after they were linked to the syndicate.

While contrived marriages are not unique to any one nationality, this particular syndicate was allegedly targeting non-citizens in the South Asian community.

These types of scams generally target vulnerable young women, many of whom come from disadvantaged and low socio-economic backgrounds. The non-citizens, attempting to enter or stay in Australia, generally pay a significant sum of money to the facilitator.

ABF Acting Investigations Commander, Clinton Sims, said these syndicates undermine the integrity of Australia’s visa program and exploit desperate individuals.

“Many of the women involved in these scams have suffered a history of substance abuse, family violence and financial hardship, and are lured in with promises of substantial payments,” Commander Sims said.

“Those seeking a visa through a contrived marriage also need to understand that paying a facilitator will not buy them a permanent visa pathway in Australia. There is rarely any financial recourse in the event that their Partner visa application is unsuccessful.”

“Protecting the integrity of the visa system is an operational priority for the ABF and anyone found to be involved in, or facilitating sham marriages should expect to be investigated and face criminal prosecution. Registered agents and marriage celebrants also face losing their registration.”

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) has charged the 32-year-old Indian national with four counts of arranging a marriage to obtain permanent residence, contrary to Section 240 of the Migration Act 1958. The maximum penalty is a fine up to $210,000 and/or 10 years imprisonment.

The remaining four individuals have each been charged with offences under the Migration Act and Criminal Code.

There was no remand/bail applied to any of those charged.

The Department of Home Affairs has a range of measures in place to ensure the integrity of the Partner visa program. These measures include assessing detailed documentary evidence, conducting interviews and home visits, and limitations on the number of times a person can sponsor a partner to Australia.

Members of the public who have information about possible visa fraud are encouraged to report it to ABF’s BorderWatch program by visiting Australia.gov.au/borderwatch. Information can be given anonymously.

Media contact: Australian Border Force (02) 6264 2244

 


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Sergio Zanotti Stagliorio is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN 1461003). He is the owner of Target Migration in Sydney. He can be reached at sergio@targetmigration.com.au