Hunch Unravels Immigrant Wedding Scam Odd Behavior at Arlington Courthouse Leads to Arrests in Probe of Green-Card Marriages
By Jerry Markon Washington Post Monday, November 13, 2006; A01
They didn't hug. They didn't kiss. They didn't even sit together.
Many couples going to the Arlington County Courthouse seemed more like strangers than people applying for marriage licenses. A man named Sam often escorted them to the sixth-floor clerk's office. Sometimes, there would be a furtive exchange of money in the elevator.
Before long, some of the same people would be back, filing for divorce, their court papers littered with mistakes — always the same mistakes.
"They misspelled 'circuit,' " said David A. Bell, the longtime Circuit Court clerk. "It was obvious something was going on."
Bell tipped off police, triggering a nearly four-year investigation that recently broke up one of the Washington region's biggest and most brazen immigration scams: an estimated 1,000 fake marriages. The scheme was centered in the area's little-noticed but rapidly growing community of immigrants from Ghana.
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