Fake brides don’t come cheap. Investigations by the UK Border force have revealed that something like £6,000 are required to tie the knot with a counterfeit bride.
The details were made public after a sham marriage fixer, behind an attempted immigration scam, was jailed following an investigation by the UK Border Agency officers.
Ola Kukute, a 37-year-old dual British-Nigerian national, attempted to arrange a number of fake marriages in London for a Nigerian student in return for cash.
Kukute, of Maplestead Road, Dagenham, Essex, was found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate a sham marriage following an eight-day trial at the inner London Crown Court, which ended on 27 October.
He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment; and efforts are on to seek the removal of Ola Kukute's British citizenship before taking steps to deport him from the UK after he has served his sentence.
Sentenced alongside Kukute was the would-be-bride, Bindaya Dalal, a 26-year-old British woman.
Dalal, of Stopford Road, Plaistow, admitted the same charge at the start of the trial and a separate charge of Bigamy. She was sentenced to two, three-month sentences, both suspended for 12 months to run concurrently, and ordered to do 120 hours unpaid community service.
Dalal was arrested by our north and east London immigration crime team in June 2010 at her home address and Kukute was finally arrested at his girlfriend's address in Leytonstone in May 2011 after evading capture for several months.
Their arrests followed an investigation that revealed Dalal had married twice before and that the second marriage, which turned out to be bigamous, only took place the previous September.
As enquiries progressed, officers became suspicious of a 27-year-old Nigerian student after his application to marry Dalal at Hammersmith & Fulham registry office. Two earlier planned ceremonies were cancelled at short notice. The student was arrested in July 2010.
He is in the country legally on a student visa and was cautioned for seeking avoidance of immigration enforcement action by deception, but not charged. He will be required to leave the UK once his visa has expired.
During questioning he admitted that Kukute had offered Dalal to him as a bride in return for a £6,000 cash fee. When she failed to attend the first wedding, which was scheduled to take place in Forest Gate, Dalal arranged with the student for him to pay her directly rather than continue using Kukute as a middle man. They agreed he would pay her a further £3,000 on top of the £2,000 he had already paid Kukute.
Ray Swan, north and east London criminal and financial investigation team, UK Border Agency said: 'Kakute and Dalal were the central suspects in a number of attempted sham marriages arranged for this student.
'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 believing they can cheat the immigration system.
'Be warned, entering into a sham marriage does not automatically give you UK citizenship. The UK Border Agency will not tolerate immigration abuse, and we are cracking down on sham marriages all over the country. As the sentence handed out today shows, those who seek to cheat immigration laws will be brought to justice.'
The north and east criminal and financial investigation team is a specialist unit of seconded police officers from the Metropolitan Police working alongside warranted UK Border Agency officers to investigate organised immigration crime.
A sham marriage typically occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area, including the UK, as means of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits.