TWO Bulgarian mothers who were recruited via Skype to take part in sham marriages have been jailed.
Tamenuzhka Slavcheva, 21 and Nadya Kamenova, 20, were jailed for 20 months and 12 months respectively after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law at Manchester Crown Court.
The pair were paid a total of more than £4,400 to ‘marry’ a pair of Pakistani men who were facing deportation.
The women were locked up alongside fake groom, Muhammed Saleem, 28, who married Slavcheva in a ceremony observed by undercover border officials, called in by suspicious staff, at Manchester Register Office last February.
Saleem – who was jailed for 20 months – from Rochdale, Lancashire, paid Slavcheva £1,000 to marry him after his student visa was rescinded.
Four days earlier, Saleem acted as a witness in the fake marriage of Mohammed Shahbaz to Kamenova. Mr Shahbaz, who has so far escaped arrest, is suspected of organising a number of other sham marriages.
The court heard that Kamenova was recruited by her UK-based aunt, who is suspected of being another of the organisers, via Skype, and got £3,400 for the job.
Once over here, Kamenova helped make arrangements for her cousin Slavcheva’s arrival.
David Toal, prosecuting, said: “Before the accession of countries such as Bulgaria and Romania to the EU, most previous sham marriage cases involved ‘brides’ from affluent countries like Holland, and invariably spent only a few days for the marriage in the UK before returning to their lives in their own country.
“Such transient passage within the UK, gave the marriages the obvious appearance of shams.
“By choosing brides from poor countries such as Bulgaria, the grooms could be confident that their brides would be more willing to remain within the UK for longer periods of time or come to the UK on repeated visits.”
Simon Nichol, defending Slavcheva, said she was a ‘naive young woman’.
Recorder Bernadette Baxter, sentencing, said: “The extremely serious offences fundamentally undermine the legitimate immigration system.”