By The Associated Press
MELBOURNE -- U.S. authorities said they’ve broken up a fraudulent marriage scheme linking Americans with partners from countries that once were part of the Soviet Union.
In a Florida Today report, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators said Americans were paid up to $20,000 to enter into sham marriages with foreign nationals who wanted to apply to become U.S. residents. Investigators said at least 100 people were married through the Florida-based scheme that began in 2015.
Brevard County Clerk of Courts spokesman Tyler Winik said local authorities noticed a large number of marriage license applications from “out-of-state individuals from similar countries.”
Nine people have been arrested. Two have pleaded guilty. Marriage fraud is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.