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Australia warns Indians seeking permanent residency against marriage scam


New Delhi, Nov 19: The Australian government has cautioned Indian nationals who want to live permanently in Australia against organised contrived marriage scams targeting South Asians.

The warning came after Australian Border Force (ABF) shut down a contrived marriages syndicate operating out of Sydney, with a 32-year-old Indian national facing court over his alleged role as the main facilitator.

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Four Australian citizens, too, are facing charges of convincing individuals to fraudulently marry non-citizens seeking to obtain permanent residency, the Australian High Commission in the national capital said in a release titled 'warning about fake marriage scams'.

It said the long running operation by the ABF also resulted in 164 foreign nationals having their applications for a "partner visa" refused after they were linked to the syndicate.

None of the participants in this scam obtained permanent residency. Some of these clients paid significant amounts of money, for no immigration outcome, it added.

"While contrived marriages are not unique to any one nationality, this particular syndicate was attempting to illegally facilitate fake marriages with non-citizens in the South Asian community," the High Commission said.

Australia is one of the most popular destinations for Indians looking for greener pastures.

The High Commission said these types of scams generally target vulnerable young Australian women, many of whom come from disadvantaged and low socio-economic backgrounds.

ABF Acting Investigations Commander, Clinton Sims, said the syndicates undermine the integrity of Australia's visa programme and exploit desperate individuals.

"Many of the women involved in these scams have suffered a history of substance abuse, family violence and financial hardship, and are lured in with promises of substantial payments," Commander Sims was quoted as saying.

"Protecting the integrity of the visa system is an operational priority for the ABF and anyone found to be involved in, or facilitating sham marriages should expect to be investigated and face criminal prosecution. Registered agents and marriage celebrants also face losing their registration," Sims added.

The High Commission said the department of Home Affairs has a range of measures in place to ensure the integrity of the "partner visa programme".

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