17 April 2018
The Immigration Department (ImmD) on December 6 conducted a sting operation codenamed "Snare 1205" by deploying an officer in disguise to meet with a bogus marriage intermediary. During the operation, four core syndicate members were arrested, including a mastermind, and the syndicate was successfully smashed. The 54-year-old mastermind pleaded guilty to one count of incitement to commit conspiracy at Shatin Magistrates' Courts and was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment today (April 17).
The ImmD has been very concerned about non-Hong Kong residents obtaining residency by means of contracting bogus marriages with Hong Kong residents, and has been aware that criminal syndicates have continually published via newspapers, instant messaging software and social networking mobile applications to induce young people to engage in bogus marriage for huge remuneration. After intelligence analysis, a syndicate which recruited young people to engage in bogus marriages was identified. By deploying an officer in disguise to meet with a bogus marriage intermediary to collect evidence, ImmD successfully smashed the syndicate. During investigation, investigators seized a number of bogus marriage-related documents and mobile phones from the premises of the mastermind and the three core syndicate members. After in-depth investigation, the syndicate was believed to have arranged around 100 bogus marriages.
"While investigating into the bogus marriage syndicate, as at April 16, a total of 41 Hong Kong and Mainland residents (21 males and 20 females) aged 20 to 65 were arrested, including the four Hong Kong resident core members of the syndicate. Among the 41 arrestees, three were charged. One of them was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, one was pending sentencing by court and the remaining one was pending court trial. In addition, apart from the mastermind who pleaded guilty to one count of incitement to commit conspiracy at Shatin Magistrates' Courts and was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment today, the cases of the other three core members of the syndicate are under active 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 ImmD 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, and anyone who commits the offence of conspiracy to defraud is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 14 years.