U.S. Immigration and also Customs Enforcement public representative want service members come say, "I don"t" to marital relationship fraud, warning the it is a federal crime and no laughing matter.

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In an initiative to prevent and deter these marriages, i m sorry basically market lawful immigration standing for pay, unique Agent Todd Siegel, of ICE"s Homeland security Investigations arm, warned that organization members may come to be financially entangled v their fake spouse.

To authenticate the marriage, couples have joint bank accounts, and also the spouse might be licensed has been granted to the soldier"s straightforward allowance for housing or other armed forces benefits, he said.

"They"re walking to it is in tied to this human for many, many years," Siegel said. "We"ve watched American citizens who have had actually their financial institution accounts cleaned out."

Marriage is just one of the most common and also clearest method for non-citizens to become a nature citizen. About one million people come to be citizens every year, and also a third of those perform so through marriage. Agency estimates say in ~ least five percent that these room fraudulent.

"Even if it"s 5 percent, that"s amazing ... It does harm to the lawful immigration system," Siegel said.

He could not provide military certain statistics.

When foreign nationals space involved, over there is a national security danger as well, the said. The sham spouse might use their connection to gain access to company member"s installation or perceptible information.

"We don"t know the reason—are they just trying to remain in this country, or carry out they have much more nefarious purposes," that said. "Even one instance could have drastic results."

HSI would certainly not comment on any kind of national protection investigations, though Siegel dubbed the scenario, "a reality concern."

"We recognize our adversaries are conscious of this," he said.

Marriage fraud is no isolated come one area in the world however officials said it is more prevalent in eastern Europe, Russia and also the Ukraine.

ICE has partnered with the Defense department in recent years to assist get words out. The attract of much more BAH has actually attracted troops in the past.

"To a hardworking soldier it may seem choose a an excellent idea," Siegel said. "But it"s no worth it."

For a business member, getting caught could median federal prosecution and a sentence of up to five years in prison and also up to $250,000 in fines. Under army law, the service member could also face, in serious cases, a dishonorable discharge and also up come 10 years confinement.

It is no unheard of because that the government to prosecute the attendees in the marriages.

Joshua Priest, a fort Riley, Kansas, personal was sentenced in 2012 to ten months after pleading guilty to conspiracy come commit marital relationship fraud and wire fraud. The was likewise ordered to pay practically $30,000 in restitution because that the fraudulently obtained housing and also subsistence benefits given married soldiers.

The Jamaican woman Priest married got the lighter sentence. She was provided two year of probation and also ordered to salary $2,600 in restitution to the army for medical services to which she was not entitled.

A federal court in 2012 sentenced previous sailor Jermar Jones to four years in prison after he arranged sham marriages between six sailors from his ship and illegal immigrant from his home nation of Grenada, as well as Trinidad. The plan was intended to attain benefits because that the so-called newlyweds, such together an easier path to citizenship.

The six sailors were ordered come repay $134,000 in benefits, and also the four sham spouses to be indicted.

The challenge for legislation enforcement public representative is come prove the marriage is fraudulent, basically the will of the 2 parties, so the is more common come prosecute in the case of marital relationship rings wherein there are payments and document trails because that investigators come follow.


Joe Gould is the Congress and also industry reporter at Defense News, extending defense budget and policy matters on Capitol Hill and also industry news.


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