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Registered migration agent Chetan Mashru and his marriage celebrant wife Divya Gowda are on trial for allegedly running a fake marriage scam wherein Indian men paid tens of thousands of dollars for Australian visas.
The couple allegedly orchestrated 16 sham marriages between March 2011 and March 2012 to secure spousal visas for Indian men.
On Monday, the commonwealth prosecutor told the court that Mashru and Gowda ran a “sham” operation, the ABC reported.
The scam allegedly involved 16 Australian brides and 15 Indian men over a period of twelve months. All the brides and 6 of the Indian men and an investigator of the Department of Immigration are expected appear as witnesses before the court.
Pradeep Singh, a taxi driver, who wanted his student visa extended was the first to marry.
After his application for a visa extension was reportedly rejected, Mashru allegedly arranged his marriage with Josie Haig on March 27, 2011.
The Courier Mail reports Singh’s Australian wife was promised nearly $30,000 over a period of two years. He paid $10,000 to Mashru on the day of his wedding who would portray a longstanding relationship between the two.
The prosecutor likened the scam to Nine Network’s reality TV show ‘Married at first sight’.
Chetan Mashru is facing 50 charges, including 16 counts of arranging a marriage for visa, 16 counts of delivering false documents to authorities and 18 counts of influencing a commonwealth public official.
Divya Gowda faces 16 charges of arranging a marriage for visa and one count of influencing a commonwealth public official.
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