US investigators target Florida-based fake marriage scheme

AP News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2017 11:22 AM

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — U.S. authorities say they've broken up a fraudulent marriage scheme linking Americans with partners from countries that once were part of the Soviet Union.

In a Florida Today report , U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators said Americans were paid up to $20,000 to enter into sham marriages with foreign nationals who wanted to apply to become U.S. residents. Investigators said at least 100 people were married through the Florida-based scheme that began in 2015.

Brevard County Clerk of Courts spokesman Tyler Winik said local authorities noticed a large number of marriage license applications from "out-of-state individuals from similar countries."

Nine people have been arrested. Two have pleaded guilty. Marriage fraud is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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Information from: Florida Today (Melbourne, Fla.), http://www.floridatoday.com