A ‘married’ couple have been jailed for their involvement in an elaborate plan to conduct sham marriages in the UK.
Mohammed Tanin and Maria Marques were jailed for four and two years respectively at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday.
Tanin, 26, and Marques, 47, were arrested in March 2011 at their home on Willis Street, Tower Hamlets, after an investigation, which began after their names were found in a notebook belonging to a man, convicted of running a sham marriage ring.
In the lead up to their arrest the pair were implicated by four Bangladeshi men, all on student visas, who each admitted to paying between £2-3,000 for them to arrange their false applications.
Over an 18-day period in July 2010, the four applications were made, all for marriages to Portuguese women.
Tanin from Bangladesh, and Marques from Portugal, own ‘marriage’ took place at Bow Church in November 2009, prompting an investigation from the UK Border Agency, which has special teams to deal with such cases.
Atiq Haque, from the North and East London criminal and financial investigation team, UKBA, said: “Tanin and Marques were at the heart of this scam and used money to lure these women into marrying men they had never met.”
“This case shows the desperate nature of immigration crime with large sums of money changing hands and people being prepared to enter into a full marriage with someone they barely know simply to cheat the immigration system.”
Benet Hiscock, warden for Bow Church, was unaware of any wrongdoing: “Any applications for marriage where residency could be an issue are referred to the diocese. I’m aware there have been stories, but we don’t get loads of these applications. But living in east London you’re always going to get these issues.”
An increased number of sham marriages led to the Church of England developing new guidance procedures in April 2011 in conjunction with UKBA.
In the London and South East area 66 arrests were made by the UKBA for sham marriages from 2010 to 2011.