FROM RUSSIA WITH $$ BRAZEN NUPTIAL FRAUDS
http://www.nypost.com/seven/07192009/ne ... 180112.htm
They're Russian to the altar.
A slew of Russian immigrants are entering sham marriages in the States to obtain green cards -- and they're doing it in plain sight.
I WAS TAKEN FOR A BRIDE
The Russian Advertiser, a Russian-language weekly, has an entire classified-ad section devoted to "delovoy brak," or "business marriages." Last week's issue had 34 ads from women and men hoping to come together in unholy matrimony.
"I am 41, nice looking woman, long time in the country, citizen. Offering delavoy brok to a serious man, age 38-52," one says.
One Sheepshead Bay man said he gets offers all the time from marriage brokers.
"I get calls asking me to marry one of these girls every other week," said the Ukrainian immigrant, who came to Brooklyn in 1975 and is a US citizen.
"It's easy money," he said. "And the girls are really hot."
He said he knows half a dozen men who married young Russian and Polish women for cash.
A federal law-enforcement source agreed that it's a common practice in certain Eastern European and Russian immigrant neighborhoods.
"It's a big business," he said. "It's really prevalent among that community."
A marriage broker contacted by a Post reporter posing as a green-card seeker walked him through the process.
The broker said the marriage would run the reporter $31,500 in cash.
Of that total, $25,000 would go to the fiancÃ©e -- with $10,000 given up front and $15,000 paid after the green-card interview with Citizenship and Immigration Services. The remaining $6,500 would go to the agency for paperwork.
The broker picks a "suitable" match from their database of eligible US citizens. Then the couple goes to City Hall for a marriage license.
He said the so-called Stokes interview with Citizenship and Immigration Services -- a part of the Department of Homeland Security -- "goes really easy" and is usually scheduled several months after the marriage.
A conditional green card arrives shortly thereafter if the agency finds the marriage is a real one, he said.
The couple must apply to have the conditions lifted just before their second anniversary in order to maintain permanent residency in the country.
With a permanent green card, immigrants can stay even if they divorce.
During the Stokes interview, according to Manhattan immigration attorney Mariana Vazquez-Garcia, customs agents will separate the couple and ask personal questions designed to trip up fakers.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman said the agency is cracking down.
"We target the organizations that help people in sham marriages," said spokesman Michael Gilhooly, noting his agency recently formed a task force to target such fraud.
A CIS spokesman, Bill Wright, said his agency was tackling the scams -- pointing to the busts of 80 brokers in Florida in May -- but he admitted it was a tough problem.
"Marriage fraud can be difficult to prove given the audacity and sheer patience of the individuals involved," he said.