GUESTS who don’t know each other and cheap suits with the price tags still on are just some of the ways immigration agents can spot a sham wedding.
Jeremy Oppenheim, the UK Border Agency’s regional director for Yorkshire, said another giveaway was when the bride and groom were unable to speak the same language .
Next week three Halifax brothers and a woman from Wakefield are due to be sentenced following a bogus marriage bid earlier this year.
Nahid Chaudhary, 31, a Pakistani national, was the intended husband but his wedding plans were cut short when police swooped shortly before the ceremony.
He and Polish “bride”, Ewelina Piotrowska, 23, of Wakefield, admitted being part of a conspiracy that would have allowed Chaudhary to remain in this country.
Saeed Akhtar, 34, of Hammond Street, Halifax; Kamran Qamar, 34, of Westfield Place, Halifax, and Jam Roze, 43, of Cedar Street, Halifax, will also be sentenced next week for their involvement in the plot.
The UK Border Ahency –a Government organisation – is in charge of granting or refusing visas to people applying to come to live in the UK, overseeing what goods are coming in and out of the border and enforcing immigration legislation.
Mr Oppenheim said he had seen a number of sham marriages organised by gangs, who exploit vulnerable people who want to live in the UK to make money.
“People don’t play by the rules,” he said.
“What some people do is they think that if they are from a nation from outside the EU and they marry someone who is from the EU it will give them a right to reside in the UK.
“Our position is that if you’re going to marry, you marry for love, not because you’re doing it to get into the UK.
“People make a lot of money from organising sham marriages.”
The team work closely with registrars and the Church of England and when people are suspicious of couples, they will be called in.
“We don’t look out for particular nationalities,” he said. “We look out for people who can’t speak each other’s names and with the labels from their Primark suits still on their clothes, and when the wedding guests seem not to know anyone else, we get suspicious.”
Mr Oppenheim said there were no particular hot-spots for sham marriages – they happened across the country.
He urged anyone wanting to live in the UK not to be tempted by an offer of a bogus wedding.
“If you’re going to live in the UK, come through the legitimate routes.”
He asked the public to help them tackle the problem by reporting any suspicions to them,
“Immigration crime is never victimless,” he said.
“If members of the public have concerns about people breaching immigration laws then we would ask them to contact us.”
Anyone who has information about suspicious marriages or other forms of immigration abuse can contact CrimeStoppers, where information can be passed on anonymously, on 0800 555111.