Gang's fake weddings were immigration con
A GANG of fraudsters sold their single status in a series of bogus marriages to help Ghanaian nationals enter the UK illegally. The four-strong group, including women from Dagenham and Chadwell Heath, were jailed for a total of five years and seven months
A GANG of fraudsters sold their single status in a series of bogus marriages to help Ghanaian nationals enter the UK illegally.
The four-strong group, including women from Dagenham and Chadwell Heath, were jailed for a total of five years and seven months after an investigation by the Border Agency.
Lisa Curtis, 23, of Heathway, Dagenham, and Cheryl Collier, also 23, of Suffolk Court, Chadwell Heath, pleaded guilty to immigration facilitation offences at Croydon Crown Court last week.
Curtis' cousin Terry Hadley, 33, and his partner Kelly Bellotti, 28, of Fenman Gardens, Ilford, pleaded guilty to the same offences.
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The gang were discovered after the three women all married Ghanaian men in late 2007 and early 2008, their sham husbands then went on to apply to remain in the UK.
None of the romances lasted long and suspicions were raised about the "weddings" by immigration officials.
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The UK Border Force then alerted their National Tactical Operations Unit who searched Curtis' home and found a price list of services she and her gang provided for illegal immigrants.
Officers also discovered documents linking her to other bogus marriages.
In an interview all three women admitted they were paid to marry the Ghanaian men, two of whom have since served time behind bars and been deported.
The third man - Bellotti's "husband" - is at large and is being hunted for questioning by UK Border Force officers.
The only man in the group of con artists, Terry Hadley, was caught out after he lodged two separate Certificates of Approval to marry two Ghanaian women in August and October 2007.
Officials raised the alarm and an investigation into Hadley was underway before the marriages could even take place.
Sentencing the gang on Friday October 16, Judge Ruth Downing, said: "I am quite clear as to the seriousness of this matter.
"You sold your single status as a commodity."
Curtis and Collier were given 18 months each; Bellotti was given 16 months and Hadley 15 months.