An Indian couple found guilty of running a sham visa scam made more than $100,000 by fleecing Indian men desperate to stay in Australia, AAP reports.
A Brisbane District Court jury returned a guilty verdict after a fortnight-long trial of Migration agent Chetan Mashru and his marriage celebrant wife Divya Gowda.
The trial heard some of the men were ready to pay up to $40,000 for the sham marriages to Australian women to secure their stay in the country.
“It was not a small scale affair by any means,” crown prosecutor Greg Lynham told the Brisbane District Court.
The scam likened to Nine Network’s Married at First Sight had men hooked with Australian women in the couple’s townhouse in Brisbane. A total of 16 marriages were organised where the men and women signed marriage papers on their first meeting.
9 News reported that Manjeet Singh, one of Mashru’s client married 18-year-old Renee who was offered $600 upfront and $1,000 every month for a period of two years.
Renee told 9 Network that she was struggling financially was enticed by the idea of earning money quickly after a friend introduced her to Chetan Mashru and his wife Divya.
“She said, ‘don’t worry, you can’t get into trouble, they won’t find out,” said Renee.
The pairs hooked up at the couple’s townhouse that acted as a “one-stop-shop” for spousal visas will have to seek annulments or divorces, the court heard on Friday.
Mashru and Gowda will be sentenced on Monday.