A mother and daughter have been accused of orchestrating as many as 26 sham marriages.
The women, along with four other female gang members, are reported to have flown off-the-peg brides from the Baltic state of Lithuania into Luton airport on a budget airline in order to take part in rapid staged marriages to non-EU residents at risk of deportation.
Some of the women returned the same day.
As Lithuania is a member of the European Union, marriage to these women entitled such men to a visa enabling them to live in other EU member states, including (currently at least) Britain.
Prosecutors claim the gang made more than £300,000 from the plot. One told Croydon Crown Court:
“This case is about the subversion of [EU citizens’ residency rights] for profit, to the detriment of those that play by the rules, by arranging sham marriages to fool the authorities into allowing the grooms to remain in the UK.”
The defendants deny conspiring to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering. The trial continues.
Photo of Croydon by A P Monblat via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence