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Four Australian citizens and an Indian national face fraud charges for allegedly luring individuals to marry non-citizens seeking to obtain permanent residency.
The Australian Border Force (ABF) has smashed the syndicate’s bogus marriage operations in Sydney, allegedly targeting non-citizens in the South Asian community.
Vulnerable young women, many of whom come from disadvantaged and low socio-economic backgrounds are generally the targets of these types of scams. The non-citizens, attempting to enter or stay in Australia, generally pay a significant sum of money to the facilitator.
These syndicates attempt to undermine Australia’s immigration program and exploit desperate individuals, ABF Acting Investigations Commander Clinton Sims said in a statement.
“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 32-year-old Indian national has been charged by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) with four counts of arranging a marriage to obtain permanent residence, contrary toSection 240 of the Migration Act 1958. The maximum penalty is a fine up to $210,000 and/or 10 years imprisonment.
The other members have each been charged with offences under the Migration Act and Criminal Code.
There was no remand/bail applied to any of those charged.
Stricter measures enforced
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.
Have you been scammed?
If you have been victimised or know of someone who is involved in a marriage scam or fraud, report it to ABF’s BorderWatch program by visiting Australia.gov.au/borderwatch. Information can be given anonymously.