A MAN and woman have been charged after a huge inquiry into sham marriages, centred on Huddersfield.
The Huddersfield pair have been charged with fraud following the lengthy investigation by Kirklees police into allegations of marriage fraud.
Sidra Fatima, 31, and Raja Haider Ali, 43, have been charged with 13 counts of fraud and will appear at Huddersfield Magistrates Court on November 4.
Investigations into the fraud offences began in March 2010 and centred around male victims who were approached on a dating website and tricked into entering what transpired to be a sham marriage.
As part of the sham, the victims lost thousands of pounds through giving cash for goods and services for the ‘wedding’ that were never actually purchased.
Details of the alleged scam first surfaced in January of this year.
The Examiner exclusively revealed that police were investigating victims’ claims.
A woman from Paddock was at the centre of an inquiry into allegations that dozens of would-be grooms were duped out of tens of thousands of pounds.
At least 31 men were contacted through a matchmaking website.
Under the scam, it is claimed the woman, who is originally from Pakistan but who moved to the UK in 1999, uses the website www.shadi.com to prey on men who are in the UK on temporary visas and want to get married.
Some of the men were reportedly taken on a shopping spree during which they were persuaded to shell out thousands of pounds on jewellery and clothing for the big day.
Each of the men has lost between £4,000 and £8,500.
West Yorkshire Police confirmed they had been investigating the allegations since March 2010.
The alleged victims come from as far afield as Slough, London, Oxford, Birmingham and Bradford.
Speaking exclusively to the Examiner in January, police confirmed they were conducting an investigation into what they called “marriage fraud”.
They said five victims were assisting CID officers with their enquiries, but have appealed for others to come forward.
In total the offences are thought to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.