Purchased right to stay: The number of fictitious marriages in Germany has risen sharply


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Fake marriages in Germany are increasingly becoming a problem. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the number of cases has increased by 84 percent. A trial in Stuttgart against “marriage brokers” is now to shed light on the scene.

The traces would lead to China and Vietnam, to Pakistan, Portugal and also to India. With expensive paid marriage of marriages, foreigners increasingly acquired the right to remain in Germany permanently. The police keep beating and arresting suspects, many of whom are rejected asylum seekers. According to estimates by the federal police, the number of unreported cases is high: numerous fictitious marriages would not even be noticed in the government apparatus, be it in the stress of the office or from a lack of experience.
The BKA calls the fictitious marriage again a “significant modus operandi” in the smuggling crime. Rejected asylum seekers in particular saw another opportunity in this extremely costly way: The number of cases of “industrial and gang-like smuggling” had increased by 84 percent to officially 223 in 2018, mainly because of the prohibited coupling of strangers.
According to the Federal Criminal Police Office, there is also a significant increase in the number of suspects by 82 percent to 340. More recent figures would not yet be available. But given the number of unreported cases, these statistics would only represent a small part of the mass.

Trial in Stuttgart

The procedure of alleged smugglers and mediators from Germany and India who have been sitting on the dock of the regional court in Stuttgart from this Monday seems to have been a “classic”.

They were arrested last May and after months of investigations into a raid in several cities in Baden-Württemberg and Saarland and have been in custody since then.

The alleged gang is said to have organized at least 39 illegal marriages between June 2014 and May 2019, predominantly between men from India or Pakistan and with Bulgarian or Greek women. “We find that couplers and their customers often have the same background,” says the Baden-Württemberg State Criminal Police Office (LKA).

Lucrative business

The goal of the “customers” is a right of residence in Germany. Brokering fictitious marriages is also a very lucrative business for the smugglers:

“The illegal profit per case amounts to around 25,000 euros,” said a Stuttgart police spokesman after the arrest of the Indian men.

The EU citizens – most of them are women – are also wasting their time: According to the experience of the BKA and LKA, they are rewarded with amounts of up to 7,000 euros.

Cyprus plays a role as a marriage crime scene, according to the BKA, fictitious marriages are also often concluded in Ireland, Belgium or the Balkans. Denmark has long been considered a “wedding paradise” for fake marriages because the bureaucratic hurdles in the neighboring country were low. The government in Copenhagen has been trying to put a stop to this for several months by deciding to have weddings for foreigners checked centrally.

German offices increasingly skeptical

In Germany, the offices are the sticking point: “If there are doubts about the seriousness of a marriage, this is usually the case there and at the moment when a residence card is applied for,” said an LKA expert. Employees of the immigration authorities would therefore be sensitized to become skeptical about certain constellations.

However, the couplers are already reacting and are evading: “Couplers know very well about the moods in the offices. They adapt well, ”says the LKA in Stuttgart. “If, for example, you are very sensitive in one city, a matchmaker tries with your customer in the neighboring municipality.”

mka / gs / dpa


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