US News Crackdown against a network of white marriages which had been operating for 20 years throughout France
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History does not say whether the “matchmaker” was in white. The gendarmes of the research section of Reims (Marne) and of the Ardennes group have dismantled an alleged network of sham marriages operating throughout France. The investigation was launched in 2019 by the prosecution of Charleville-Mézières (Ardennes). A real small industry, founded twenty years ago, which would have been piloted by a woman, the aptly named Maria, assisted by other members of her family.
Seven people were taken into custody on Tuesday February 16. Six of them were arrested in the Ardennes and one in Seine-Saint-Denis. They are suspected of having pocketed a little more than 2 million euros thanks to the organization of nearly 150 illegal unions between 2016 and 2021. To date, 88 suspicious unions have been identified.
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A wedding at 23,000 euros on average
The book of "reservations" was full until April. Thanks to a word-of-mouth system, the network offered foreign nationals to marry French people in order to obtain nationality.
A business that could not be juicier since weddings were billed, on average, 23,000 euros. The French national who agreed to play the husband or the wife pocketed 8,000 euros as remuneration, while the "matchmaker" received about 1,000 euros.
In addition to fraud while staying on French territory, the damage suffered by the State and social organizations, which has not yet been assessed, promises to be significant.
Kits of false documents justifying cohabitation
Maria, suspected of being at the head of this organization, would be involved in the direct organization of marriages, the recruitment of foreigners and of men or women of French nationality candidates and the of meeting in town hall. She would have received 14,000 euros per marriage. After a first incarceration in 2019, it is his daughter Elodie who would have taken up the torch.
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His son Rémi would have, for his part, worked as a forger since the beginning of the year 2020. Previously, his mother would have provided himself with a Parisian contact with ready kits of false documents which justified the community of life between the future spouses. A kit billed at 600 euros.
Presumed right arm of Maria, Edwige would have even married twice. The maximum penalty for suspects is 10 years' imprisonment.
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