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The BBC's Emma Howard
"The bogus couples are encouraged to practise each others' names"
 real 56k

Sunday, 25 February, 2001, 10:06 GMT
Bogus marriage gang exposed
Wedding rings
Registrars have no legal right to stop a suspicious wedding
The BBC has exposed a bogus wedding gang operating in north London.

The Home Office now suspects that 10,000 bogus wedding ceremonies take place in London alone every year to avoid immigration controls.

The investigation has revealed that brides are being paid up to 2,000 and "marriage fixers" are charging up to 4,000 for a fake wedding.


It is the quickest money you will ever earn, you're just standing there saying a couple of words

Bogus bride Gina
It has also exposed an immigration advisor who puts people in touch with marriage fixers.

As part of the investigation for BBC One's Kenyon Confronts, an African researcher posed as an illegal immigrant to meet "George" the gang leader or "fixer".

He claimed to have arranged about 50 weddings over a two or three year period and that he could find a girl in a matter of days for a fee of 3,500.

At the beginning of this year, the government changed the law to try to prevent bogus marriages.

VideoClick here to watch Kenyon Confronts on bogus marriages

Confrontation

Despite the changes registrars still have no legal right to stop a suspicious wedding on the grounds that it is bogus - even if the couple do not know each other's names.

Some registrars told the programme that they marry suspicious couples every day of the week.

The chief registrar at Brent Register office, Mark Rimmer, said: "We often feel that people are taking the mickey out the system.


Gina admits to seven bogus marriages
"The numbers are significant. It is incredibly frustrating and there is often very little we can do to stop the marriage taking place."

Gina - described in the programme as a "serial marrier" - was jailed for three months for taking part in bogus weddings and admits to having been married seven times.

She said she has been paid 2000 a time, going from register office to register office being a bride for people desperate to stay in the UK.

She said: "It is so easy you know? Very, very, easy. It is the quickest money you will ever earn, you're just standing there saying a couple of words."

During the investigation BBC reporter Paul Kenyon stopped a bogus wedding at a north London registry office and confronted the gang leader behind the bogus ceremony with his evidence.

VideoClick here to watch Kenyon Confronts on bogus marriages

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12 May 98 | UK
Marriages made for money
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