AN elaborate contrived marriages syndicate operating out of Sydney has been shut down by police, with the alleged facilitator of the fake marriages arrested and charged.
The 32-year-old Indian national faced court this week over his role in the scam, which allegedly targeted the South Asian community.
Four others also appeared in court for allegedly convincing fellow Australian citizens to fraudulently marry non-citizens willing to pay a significant amount of money to obtain permanent residency in the country.
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As a result of the long running operation by the Australian Border Force, 164 foreign nationals have already had their applications for a Partner visa refused after they were linked to the syndicate.
ABF Acting Investigations Commander, Clinton Sims, said the syndicate undermines the integrity of Australia’s visa program and exploits 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.”
Commander Sims warned registered agents and marriage celebrants involved in the weddings also face losing their registration.
“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,” he said.