Bogus marriage syndicate smashed by Immigration Department

10 February 2017

The Immigration Department (ImmD) smashed a syndicate arranging cross-boundary bogus marriages in a series of territory-wide operations codenamed "Flashspear 2016" conducted since March 2016, and three core syndicate members were arrested. A 58-year-old male defendant pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to defraud at the District Court and was sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment today (February 10).

An ImmD spokesman said that the department has been very 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 recruited young people to engage in bogus marriages was identified. A series of territory-wide operations smashed this cross-boundary bogus marriage syndicate. Investigators seized a number of Hong Kong identity cards, Home Visit Permits, Entry and Exit Permits or their copies, account books and marital agreements from the premises of the three core members.

"Since the commencement of the operations, a total of 128 Hong Kong and Mainland residents (55 males and 73 females) aged 22 to 68 have been arrested, including the three core members of the syndicate. Investigation suggested that members of the syndicate used a social media website and social networking mobile applications as means of communication to recruit young Hong Kong residents to contract bogus marriages in the places of origin of the three core members in the Mainland. Among the 128 arrestees, 52 have been charged and 38 of them have pleaded guilty in court to the offence of conspiracy to defraud. Twenty-four of these 38 persons were sentenced to nine to 18 months' imprisonment while 14 are pending sentencing by court. In addition, apart from the core member who pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to defraud at the District Court and was sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment today, the other two have been arrested and their cases are under investigation. The operation is ongoing and more arrests may be made. In addition, relevant Mainland authorities have been notified about the cases of the Mainlanders," the spokesman said.

"The Immigration Department will continue to spare no effort in combating bogus marriages and other related illicit activities. For people who have obtained their residence in Hong Kong by fraudulent means, their Hong Kong identity card and residence status will be invalidated according to the laws of Hong Kong. They will also be subject to removal back to their place of origin," the spokesman said.

The spokesman urged the public not to defy the law by participating in activities related to bogus marriages 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.