Unravelling Marriage Fraud

Following our article on UK Marriage Fraud, I have talked with Kim Sow of Immigration Marriage Fraud Consultancy (IMFCO).

Kim has kindly shared a lot of contacts that will be useful for anyone groomed into a marriage for immigration purposes. I’ll make sure that all of these are added to our list of useful resources (Life After Grooming)

What has amazed me is the complexity of fraud marriages and the lengths people go to.

So, in an attempt to unravel and explain where this fits, the following is a summary, which will also help with some of the terminology. Note that this is topline only, and does not pretend to offer legal definitions.

Arranged Marriage: the bride and groom are chosen third parties, not the couple themselves. This will often be parents or professional matchmakers, and is often culturally driven. It is consensual, legal and very different from a forced marriage.

Forced Marriage is illegal across the UK, and applies to UK citizens’ marriages forced abroad as well as in the UK. It is where an individual is coerced into marriage, and it doesn’t need to be physical coercion – suggestions that not to marry will bring shame, or familial pressure, are also criminal.

Marriage Fraud is a type of romance scam. One partner is lured by a foreigner feigning romantic interest into marriage, usually to gain legal rights (such as citizenship) or money.

Sham Marriage (Fake Marriage) is a marriage entered into with no real intention to enter into a marital relationship – a marriage of convenience of convenience where people gain from the marriage – perhaps money or citizenship rights. (Note that definitions of sham marriages differ across countries/jurisdictions.) Sham marriages are illegal,,


Both forced marriage and arranged marriage are grooming if an individual or individuals formed a relationship with the express intention of tricking another into marriage.

Sham marriages include two people who consent to the arrangement and this is NOT grooming (although it’s usually illegal).

But marriage fraud is always grooming. One partner’s intent was unclear and the other would almost certainly not have consented to the relationship had they known its true purpose.

Change is Needed

As I learn more, my own thoughts on marriage fraud are refining.

There are issues around marriage legality and bigamy thrown up under sharia law. There are calls for a register, which CAAGe would back:

  • Marriage fraud should be treated as a criminal offence in line with sham marriages;
  • Foreign marriage fraudsters should be unable to claim money and assets from British citizens;
  • Foreign nationals should be deported in marriage fraud cases;
  • The Data Protection Act should be exempted in cases of marriage fraud;
  • The UK should seek international agreements with other countries to seize money and assets held overseas in marriage fraud cases;
  • The Home Office should have a specialist hotline fore reporting Fraud & illegal immigration.

Stay tuned to hear more as I discuss further ways forward with Kim.

Places to find help and support after grooming: Life after Grooming

If you’ve been groomed as an adult and would like to help us understand better, please participate in our (totally anonymous) ongoing survey: Adult Grooming Survey

Published by Claire (claireatwaves)

Founder, Waves PR To be found as claireatwaves in most social spaces. Helping people's reputations, online and off. Passionate advocate against adult grooming and groomers at CAAGe.org.

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