Five members of a sham marriage ring have been sentenced at court today.
The gang, were involved in three sham marriages, receiving money to help Vietnamese people remain in the country.
Kevin Donnelly, 34, of Thwaites Road, Oswaldtwistle, Jason Proctor, 40, of Princes Street, Blackburn, Amanda Nolan, 28, of Windsor Road, Blackburn, Denny Wallace, 22, of Preston New Road, Blackburn and Gemma Nelson, 28, of Whalley New Road, Blackburn all appeared at Preston Crown Court on Thursday, March 14.
Proctor and Donnelly were both jailed for ten months.
Nolan was sentenced to 44 weeks in prison which was suspended for two years and Nelson and Wallace were both given 36 weeks. All five were convicted of committing an act of deception to facilitate non EU nationals to remain or enter the UK.
The gang arranged wedding ceremonies with some exchanging rings and holding wedding breakfasts.
They took pictures of the ceremonies and presented them to the Home Office as proof of their relationships.
The weddings took place between October 2008 and October 2010.
Police became aware in October 2010 after a tip off from a member of the public – the day after Nolan’s £1500 wedding at Whitehall Country Club, Darwen.
All five were arrested after a lengthy investigation by officers from Lancashire Constabulary’s Eastern Division.
Detective Sergeant Julie Cross said: “They were paid large sums of month to enter into marriages of convenience, which were a complete sham. They spent a lot of time and money to deceive the authorities, creating the impression that they were genuine marriages.
“This has been a long and complex investigation and I am satisfied with the result. We have worked closely with the Home Office and Blackburn with Darwen Registry Office in order to bring this gang to justice and I hope the case acts as a warning to those who abuse immigration rules to help people to illegally remain in the UK.”
Enquiries are ongoing to trace a further four people who are believed to be involved in the sham marriages.
These are 24-year-old Tuan Hoang Luu, 24-year-old Trang Thi Thuy Luu, 23-year-old Thi Le Quyen Le and a 23-year-old man, Dat Van Vu. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to contact police on 101.