On Friday, the mastermind of a group that took tens of thousands of dollars from about a score of domestic helpers to arrange marriages in order to get permanent residency in Hong Kong was convicted of fraud charges representing the first of such case in the city.
55 years old Chan Oi-fan, Hong Kong woman, was found guilty of all four charges against her regarding the role she played in defrauding people as well as a count of standing in the way of justice and will now be sentenced come February 28.
Hong Kong’s Immigration Department said this is the first time the agency will uncover a situation of domestic helpers being defrauded for sham marriages.
Between HK$40,000 (US$5,130) and HK$150,000 (US$19,000) was collected from each Indian and Nepalese domestic helpers. Each of them paid this amount to sign up for marriage with the hope of remaining in Hong Kong as well as finding better jobs once they have a dependent visa.
According to Hong Kong’s immigration rule, foreign helpers are only allowed to work in the city if a contract exists between them and an employer and in this event, they are forbidden from working for anyone else and are not eligible for residency in Hong Kong.
Between 2015 and 2017, the syndicate for which Chan Oi-fan was a mastermind successfully arranged about 20 sham marriages and made above HK$2 million (US$250,000) according to an assistant director of the immigration department.
Male Hong Kong residents were targeted and given as much as HK$60,000 (US$7,600) by the syndicate to get them to marry domestic helpers as well as mainland Chinese people who want to live in the city.
This is an unusual case, and it is undoubtedly an isolated one, a senior immigration officer said.
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