A SUSPECTED sham bride and groom were arrested in a dawn raid by immigration officers.

Home Office immigration enforcement staff swooped on a home in Webster Street, Burnden, yesterday morning and made two arrests.

A 27-year-old Bulgarian woman and a 30-year-old Pakistani man were arrested on suspicion of taking part in a sham marriage on December 27 last year at Manchester Register Office.

The National Crime Agency and Greater Manchester Police were also involved in the raid.

Nick Wood, from the Home Office’s North West criminal and financial investigations team, said: “The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation into suspected sham marriages in the North West.

“Where there are suspicions that a relationship may not be genuine we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene to stop it happening.

“We are determined to stop migrants abusing the marriage system to cheat immigration rules.”

Last year 12 Bolton people were jailed for their roles in sham marriages last year.

Maria Loureiro, the mastermind behind the scheme, made almost £30,000 from arranging nine fake weddings.

She arranged for nine Portuguese women to be flown from Lisbon to England to marry nine Indian men, who were living in Bolton and wanted to remain in the country.

The men had all entered the country legally but their visas were due to expire or had already expired.


Ilias Neki, aged 47, of Argo Street, Daubhill, a director of the former business, Swantex, in Higher Swan Lane, was the “conduit” between the Indian men and Loureiro.

The fraud was busted by the Home Office and all of the defendants caught were jailed.

A sham marriage takes place when a non-European national marries someone from Europe as a means of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits in this country.

Anyone who has information on suspected immigration fraudsters can report them here.