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The Australian High Commission in New Delhi has warned Indian nationals desirous of a life in Australia to be wary of fake marriage scams targeting South Asians.
Earlier this month, an alleged fake marriage syndicate operating out of Sydney was busted with the arrest of a 32-year-old Indian national who the Australian Border Force claimed was the main facilitator of the scam.
The long-running operation by the ABF also resulted in 164 visa seekers having their applications for a partner visa refused after their alleged link to the syndicate was discovered.
The Australian High Commission said none of the visa applicants could secure Australian permanent residency through this scam despite some of them paying significant sums of money.
“While contrived marriages are not unique to any one nationality, this particular syndicate was attempting to illegally facilitate fake marriages with non-citizens in the South Asian community, the High Commission in New Delhi said in a statement.
The ABF said such scams target vulnerable young Australian women from low socio-economic backgrounds with visa applicants attempting to enter or stay in Australia paying a significant sum of money to the facilitator.
Four women- all Australian citizens- were also charged after the syndicate was shut down for allegedly convincing individuals to fraudulently marry visa seekers.
The ABF has also been successful in combating contrived marriages in Victoria, with one individual sentenced to six months imprisonment for fraud offences against the Migration Act.
ABF’s Acting Investigations Commander, Clinton Sims, said the syndicates undermine the integrity of Australia’s visa program and exploit desperate individuals.
“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,” he said.
Commander Sims said the ABF’s efforts to detect such scams are ongoing.
The 32-year-old Indian national denied the allegations while speaking to the media after he appeared in the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney.
“I don’t know the guy who was arranging these things, I am just sometimes helping them,” The Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying.
If found guilty of the charges brought against him the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution, he could get 10 years in jail and a penalty of up to $210,000.
The High Commission said the Department of Home Affairs employs a range of measures to ensure the integrity of partner visa program, including assessing the documentary evidence, conducting interviews and home visits and limiting the number of times a person can sponsor a partner to Australia.