October 28, 2008
By Michael Giannetti, Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs
NORFOLK (NNS) -- The U.S. attorney's office, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agents and several other federal agencies carried out 33 arrest warrants, April 16, on 10 active duty Sailors, seven former Sailors and 16 foreign nationals.
The arrests were the result of a 15-month investigation in Hampton Roads of fraudulent marriages that Sailors had entered into for cash and increased housing allowances.
"We have determined that these sham marriages have cost the Navy more than $500,000 in basic allowance for housing (BAH)," said Sam Worth, special agent in charge of the NCIS's Norfolk field office. "And that does not even account for the other benefits associated with being a military dependant such as medical care."
In the past few years, the Navy has been aggressively cracking down on this illegal activity and more than 70 arrests have been made on the East Coast alone. In most of these recent cases Sailors entered into the marriages with young Eastern European women who are here on temporary visas.
Typically, Sailors are paid thousands of dollars to marry the women and then many claim their spouse lives in high-cost living areas such as New York so they would qualify for higher BAH in which they would keep for themselves.
The women involved are seeking citizenship. For this reason it is called a sham marriage which is where the parties of a marriage entered into the marriage solely for circumventing immigration laws which is not valid for immigration purposes. The sole purpose of the sham marriage is to enjoy immigration benefits or evade immigration restrictions.
Every case is different but many are elaborately planned to deceive the government.
"They go to great extent to prove that they are in a bona fide marriage so they can become citizens," said Worth. "In many cases women go as far as to take photographs with the Sailors and their family members and show these to immigration along with their marriage certificates, set up joint bank accounts and even sign apartment leases."
The difficult task of proving the deception has been led by U.S. attorney's office, NCIS and several federal agencies. In all the cases they have evidence that the Sailors have been defrauding the government and the women are here illegally.
"Marriage fraud and other types of immigration benefit fraud pose a serious threat to our national security and the integrity of our nation's legal immigration system," said Mark McGraw, acting special agent in charge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "By targeting the people, money and material that support these illicit networks, ICE is putting these organizations out of business and increasing the overall security of our nation."
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How do I contact the Navy if I know of some one pulling this scam? Is there any way to find out?
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Call the base or command JAG and let them know. They will either do something or refer you.
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base JAG and/or command. All else contact the MP office and ask who to talk to about it. I've reported one of the shams recently. in my case i contacted my hubby's command, the base legal, and the MPs.
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