Four people have been taken into custody in an operation against an organised crime group that arranged fake marriages for citizens of India and Pakistan seeking residence in European Union countries, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry said on May 9.
Under the supervision of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, Border Police and Sofia police arrested the four – two Bulgarian women, a Bulgarian man and an Indian man, the ministry said.
The statement said that the investigation began in 2017, acting on a tip-off regarding an organised crime group involved in human trafficking.
The ministry said that the group recruited women in Sofia to engage in fictitious marriages with men from India and Pakistan in return for promises of money.
The marriages were conducted in Bulgaria, in western Europe and in Cyprus. The foreign citizens registered themselves at addresses in the countries where the marriages had taken place and applied for long-stay status in western EU countries on the basis of the fake marriages to the Bulgarian women.
The ministry said that the women drawn into the scheme were forced to co-operate with their Indian and Pakistani “spouses” in dealings with immigration authorities in various countries, including Austria, Belgium and Denmark, among others.
The suspects were in 72-hour custody and investigations were proceeding, the Interior Ministry said.