THE Policia Nacional have arrested 32 people in Andalucia for their involvement in a ‘marriage of convenience’ scam that enabled foreigners to get Spanish residency.

Spaniards, North Africans and Moroccans were detained in Pozo Alcon (Jaen), Jaen, Cordoba and Malaga including the organisation’s 43-year-old leader who had an extensive criminal record. already been arrested in 2016 for similar acts.

Investigations started in February after officers from the Provincial Brigade of Foreigners detected several applications for residency permits based on quickly arranged marriages- many of which featured a large age difference between the couples.

The gang recruited Spanish citizens- mainly women living in Cordoba- who were paid around €400 each to register a civil partnership in the Registry of Cordoba with people from North-West Africa.

They had no previous relationship with the men, but the ‘arranged’ partnership was solely to be classified as an EU citizen to get residency and work permits in Spain.

Inquiries revealed that some of the women had been previously arrested in 2016 for committing similar crimes.

Once the marriage had taken place, the organisation obtained other authorisations for the newly-wed men, including bogus registration certificates and fake Social Security documents, as well counterfeit self-employed worker status papers and medical insurance.

The men would paid up to €5,000 each for the documents.

The Policia Nacional operation resulted in 20 registered partnerships being annulled in Cordoba as well as uncovering multiple fake papers.

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