Police crack ring that set up sham marriages

Police crack ring that set up sham marriages

An accountant, a lawyer and four notaries stand accused of running a network in Athens that helped numerous undocumented migrants gain legal status in Greece through sham weddings and falsified paternity claims, police said Friday.

The mastermind of the racket is thought to be a 59-year-old accountant, who has already been convicted for other offenses, while a 38-year-old lawyer, who is still at large, is believed have acted as her right-hand man.

Police arrested a total of 12 people in the broader Athens area in a crackdown on the racket but another 76 people are believed to have been part of the illegal network.

The gang allegedly approached Greek women who had children that were born out of wedlock and offered them money to falsely declare undocumented migrants as the father. They also arranged fake marriages with Greek women so that their clients could claim citizenship.

Investigators searched 16 homes and offices so far and have recovered many official papers, seals and photocopies of identity documents. They have found evidence of 47 cases in which migrants gained residency illegally and are investigating another 474.

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