Victims of marriage fraud are calling on the government to introduce tougher sanctions on those who pretend to fall in love and marry to gain a UK passport, reports the Daily Express.
The Express reports on calls for stricter laws to punish marriage fraud, which it claims has gathered the support of some 900 women and 100 men.
Marriage fraud is the term given when a person seeks to con someone into marriage with the sole purpose of gaining a UK passport or visa status that will allow them to remain in the UK.
Often marriage fraud begins with a trip abroad, and a holiday romance for a single man or woman from the UK. Once the relationship blossoms, the UK citizen begins to believe they have found true love, and a marriage is arranged.
It is only once the legal formalities are over that the fraudster reveals their true motive, as they leave their partner to enjoy their new life in the UK.
Official figures reported in the Daily Mail earlier this year suggests that there were as many as 7,606 ‘fake’ marriages conducted in the UK between January and October 2013.
In addition to the marriage scam outlined above, other examples of marriage fraud are more organised, and involve men from abroad paying a fee for a sham marriage to be organised on their behalf in order to obtain immigration papers.
Last year the BBC reported that three men, including a North London based solicitor, were facing jail after being found to have profited from the organisation of sham marriages to the tune of £20m, in a scam running for over eight years. It is understood men from abroad paid as much as £14,000 to have a fake marriage organised in the UK on their behalf.
The Express reports that campaign group, Stop UK Marriage Fraud, will call on the Home Secretary to criminalise marriage fraud and to make the punishments far tougher in a bid to deter people from the heartbreaking practice.
The campaign group was started by Michelle Nawar, 48, who was left devastated after her Egyptian husband left her, just one month after receiving his British passport.
“We want immigration marriage fraud recognised as a crime” Ms Nawar told the Express.
“That is what we will be calling for when we demonstrate outside Parliament in August” she added.
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