Bogus marriage syndicate smashed by Immigration Department

2 December 2014

The Immigration Department has smashed a syndicate arranging cross-boundary bogus marriages in a series of territory-wide operations conducted since July 2014.

An Immigration Department spokesman said the department is concerned about non-Hong Kong residents obtaining residency by means of contracting bogus marriages with Hong Kong residents. After months of intelligence analysis and in-depth investigation, a syndicate which had arranged for young people to engage in bogus marriages was identified.

"Since the commencement of operations in July 2014, 60 immigration investigators raided more than 70 targeted locations and arrested 59 suspects (28 males and 31 females) aged 21 to 58, including the syndicate's suspected mastermind and three suspected core members. Among the arrestees, 52 were Hong Kong residents and seven were Mainlanders. They are suspected to have committed offences including conspiracy to defraud and aiding and abetting others in making false representation to immigration officers. The operation is ongoing and more arrests may be made," the spokesman said.

In the premises of the suspected mastermind and a suspected core member, investigators seized a number of Hong Kong and Mainland marriage certificates as well as birth certificates or their copies, mobile phones and more. Investigation indicated that members of the syndicate used instant messaging and social networking mobile applications as means of communication and to send documents required for marriage registration. It is believed that the syndicate had been operating for the past two years and was involved in at least 80 bogus marriages. The syndicate charged Mainland residents RMB60,000 to RMB100,000 for each arranged marriage and the amount of money involved was expected to be about $10 million. Of the 59 arrestees, 18 have been charged and nine of them have been convicted of the offence of conspiracy to defraud in Shatin Magistrates' Courts and are pending sentencing. The suspected mastermind will also be charged soon.

The spokesman urged the public not to defy the law by participating in activities related to bogus marriage anywhere and not to make a false oath before immigration officers for the purpose of procuring a marriage in Hong Kong. Those directing others to contract a bogus marriage may also be guilty of the offence of conspiracy to defraud.

Under the laws of Hong Kong, it is an offence to make false representation to immigration officers. Offenders are liable to prosecution and to a maximum fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years. Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution and the same penalties.

Any person who for the purpose of procuring a marriage, or a certificate or license for marriage, knowingly and wilfully makes a false oath or makes or signs a false declaration shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to, upon conviction, imprisonment for seven years and a fine.

Anyone who commits the offence of conspiracy to defraud is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 14 years.