Marriage By Proxy – Scammer Marriages – By Internet Or Phone Are Not Legal Or Real – Are They? 2024

(Last Updated On: January 21, 2024)

Marriage By Proxy or Scammer Marriages

Scammers Show Fake Marriage Certificates As Proof Of Relationship But They Just Might Be Legal!

How Scams Work – A SCARS Insight

Article Abstract

The article explores the legal intricacies and potential risks associated with proxy marriages conducted through the Internet, phone, or video calls. While these marriages are generally not recognized in Western countries, the piece highlights their legality in West African nations such as Nigeria and Ghana.

It outlines the challenges of verifying identities and ensuring genuine consent in online marriages, particularly in the context of romance scams. The article provides specific legal requirements for proxy marriages in West Africa, emphasizing consent, legal age, and valid reasons for absence during the ceremony. It concludes with advice for scam victims, including considerations for annulment and reporting scams to immigration authorities. The summary encapsulates the comprehensive examination of legal, social, and emotional implications surrounding proxy marriages.

But In West Africa Marriage by Proxy Is!

In certain places around the world, it is possible to get married without both people being present using Marriage by Proxy. This is called a Proxy Marriage and can be completely legal under the right circumstances.

What is Marriage by Proxy?

Marriage by proxy is a marriage in which one or both of the parties to the marriage are not physically present at the ceremony – that is where the ceremony is being conducted. This is typically done for members of the military who are deployed overseas, but it can also be done for other reasons, such as in cases of medical or financial hardship.

What is Allowed and What is Not Allowed in Marriage by Proxy?

The specific requirements for marriage by proxy vary from state to state and from country to country. In general, however, both parties to the marriage must consent to the marriage, and they must both be of legal age to marry. Additionally, there must be a valid reason for one or both of the parties to the marriage to not be physically present at the ceremony.

But that is basically it for Marriage by Proxy. This means that as long as one party confirms the consent of the other, they can create a binding marriage!

There are a number of reasons why marriage by internet, phone, or video call is not supposed to be legal:

  • First, it is difficult to verify the identity of the parties involved. This means that it is possible for scammers to use fake identities to marry people without their consent.
  • Second, it is difficult to ensure that both parties to the marriage are consenting to the marriage. This is because it can be difficult to tell if someone is being coerced or threatened over the internet or phone.
  • Finally, marriage by internet, phone, or video call is not recognized by all countries. This means that if you get married by internet, phone, or video call, your marriage may not be valid in all countries.

However, in West Africa, Marriage by Proxy might be!

Remember that a marriage is nothing more than an entry into a court or registrar document, and the same is true for Marriage by Proxy.

In remote or highly corrupt locations it is a very small thing to record a legally binding marriage. A clerk of court or even a judge can be bribed in many places around the world for a small amount of money.

In Romance Scams

Romance scams are a type of fraud in which scammers create fake online profiles to lure people into relationships. Once they have gained the victim’s trust and control over the victim through grooming, manipulation, and control, the scammers have the victim provide money or personal information. Romance scams can be very devastating for victims, as they can lose a significant amount of money and their emotional investment in the relationship.

However, one common tactic that romance scammers use is to promise marriage to their victims. The scammers may even create fake marriage certificates or other documentation to make their promises seem more believable. However, it is important to remember that marriage by internet, phone, or video call is not typically legal, so any marriage certificate or other documentation that a romance scammer provides is likely to be fake. Unless the criminals paid to have a real marriage recorded.

Marriage by proxy is legal in many West African countries, such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast.)

However, the specific requirements for marriage by proxy vary from country to country. In general, however, both parties to the marriage must consent to the marriage, and they must both be of legal age to marry. Additionally, there must be a valid reason for one or both of the parties to the marriage to not be physically present at the ceremony.

The question then is: what constitutes consent in a Marriage by Proxy? That is only what the official presiding over the ‘ceremony’ decides it is. Meaning it could be an instant message, a text message, or an email.

It is important to note that marriage by proxy is not recognized by all countries. This means that if you get married by proxy in a West African country, your marriage may not be valid in all countries. However, it may be if the criminals claim that the victim visited there in person.

For a marriage by proxy to be legally binding in Nigeria and Ghana, the following requirements must be met:

  • Both parties to the marriage must consent to the marriage. This consent must be freely given and without coercion. But the form is not often specified.
  • Both parties to the marriage must be of legal age to marry. The legal age to marry in Nigeria is 18 for both men and women. The legal age to marry in Ghana is 18 for men and 16 for women.
  • There must be a valid reason for one or both of the parties to the marriage to not be physically present at the ceremony. Valid reasons include military service, medical reasons, or financial hardship.
  • The marriage must be solemnized in accordance with the laws of the country where it is taking place. In Nigeria, this means that the marriage must be solemnized by a registered marriage officer or by a religious leader who is licensed to solemnize marriages. In Ghana, this means that the marriage must be solemnized by a registrar of marriages or by a religious leader who is licensed to solemnize marriages. However, a small amount of money can easily satisfy this.

In addition to the above requirements, there are some specific requirements for marriage by proxy in Nigeria and Ghana.

Nigeria

  • The parties to the marriage must have a valid power of attorney. This power of attorney must be signed by both parties to the marriage and must be witnessed by two people. The power of attorney must also be notarized.
  • The marriage ceremony must be witnessed by two people. These witnesses must be over the age of 18 and must be mentally competent.
  • The marriage certificate must be signed by both parties to the marriage, by the witnesses, and by the person who solemnized the marriage.

Ghana

  • The parties to the marriage must have a valid power of attorney. This power of attorney must be signed by both parties to the marriage and must be witnessed by two people. The power of attorney must also be notarized.
  • The marriage ceremony must be witnessed by two people. These witnesses must be over the age of 18 and must be mentally competent.
  • The marriage certificate must be signed by both parties to the marriage, by the witnesses, and by the person who solemnized the marriage.

It is important to note that marriage by proxy is not recognized by all countries. Even if you are planning to get married by proxy in Nigeria or Ghana, you should check with the authorities in the country where you plan to live after the marriage to make sure that your marriage will be recognized.

Additional tips for marriage by proxy in Nigeria and Ghana

  • It is important to hire a reputable lawyer to help you with the process of marriage by proxy. A lawyer will be able to ensure that all of the requirements are met and that your marriage is valid.
  • It is important to be aware of the potential risks of marriage by proxy. For example, there is a risk that the person you are marrying is not who they say they are. There is also a risk that the person you are marrying is already married to someone else.
  • It is important to be prepared for the challenges of marriage by proxy. It can be difficult to build a relationship with someone you have never met in person. It can also be difficult to maintain a relationship with someone who is living far away.

This is all-important, but local corruption and criminal intent can easily overcome the legalities of the process.

Were You in a Scam that Involved a Marriage Certificate?

If you think you are a victim of a romance scam, it is important to report the scam to the authorities. However, there may be more that needs to be done.

If the scammer ever mentioned marriage, you will need to confirm that no marriage was ever legally registered in that country. Many countries offer online searches. However, often it has to be done on a local state-by-state or province-by-province basis. You have to be thorough in this.

Marriage by Proxy and Beneficial Rights

Why would a scammer go to the effort to falsify a real marriage and register it? Because they can gain additional benefits, either in wealth/property or the ability to obtain immigration benefits.

Please remember that SCARS is not a licensed attorney and we are only attempting to educate victims on these issues and not to provide legal advice.

Benefit in Wealth or Property

While a scam victim might laugh at the idea of being married to a scammer, the idea is not as absurd as it sounds. It is entirely possible for these criminals to bribe officials into creating a legally solemnized marriage in their country, regardless of where the victim is. All it takes are a few bribes and supporting documents and many victims document their agreement to marry in the communications with the scammers.

The danger to the victim is if the scammer uses their financial power to claim joint property or ownership. After all, the scammer takes most of the wealth and money from victims and usually has more money than the victim does. They can easily hire an attorney to act on their behalf.

This can potentially turn into a nightmare scenario where the scam victim has to legally defend themself against legal claims on their property or other assets.

Immigration Benefit

When a U.S. citizen seeks a green card residency for their foreign spouse, adherence to U.S. immigration laws is paramount. The same is going to be true for most countries.

In the case of the United States, the validity of the marriage certificate is crucial, irrespective of its origin globally. The requirement for a bona fide relationship, emphasizing authenticity over mere immigration benefits, adds another layer of scrutiny. In the context of proxy marriages, the USCIS, despite potential state recognitions, imposes distinct regulations. Notably, the USCIS acknowledges proxy marriages only post-consummation through sexual relations after the ceremony. Pre-ceremony consummation, even with shared children, is not recognized. However, here again, some things can be falsified by the scammers.

Complying with the USCIS standards necessitates furnishing evidence of consummation and substantiating a genuine marital relationship. Proof of consummation entails demonstrating physical presence post-ceremony, supported by various documentation such as plane tickets, hotel reservations, photos, bills, and lease agreements. Testimonials from witnesses, including family, friends, religious leaders, and landlords, attesting to the proxy marriage and subsequent in-person encounters, are crucial. While this might be difficult to fake all of it, it does not require as much to obtain a VISA to the United States – the marriage certificate alone may be sufficient with correspondence from the marriage partner (scam victim.)

Establishing a bona fide relationship for residency purposes demands robust evidence, with joint commitments like lease agreements, bank accounts, wills, property ownership, utility bills, and life insurance policies holding substantial weight. Proving shared residency, financial interdependence, or familial ties enhances USCIS confidence in the marriage’s authenticity. While alternative evidence like cards, affidavits, and visitation tickets may suffice, seeking legal counsel becomes advisable, especially in cases lacking strong proof of cohabitation.

Nut never forget the resourcefulness of these criminals when they smell money! Their only goal may be to create a marriage for the purposes of obtaining a VISA to the victim’s country. But more may be possible.

What to do about a Marriage by Proxy?

If you are a scam victim and marriage was included in any form during your relationship scam, you are advised to speak with a family law attorney about the option of an annulment.

Annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage null and void, as if it never existed. Unlike divorce, which ends a valid marriage, an annulment essentially erases the marriage, treating it as if it were never legally recognized. Annulments are granted based on specific grounds, and these grounds vary by jurisdiction.

Common reasons for seeking an annulment include:

  1. Fraud or Misrepresentation: If one party misrepresented themselves or withheld important information that, if known, would have affected the other party’s decision to marry. This would probably be the basis for an annulment in the event of a relationship scam with a marriage by proxy.
  2. Lack of Consent: If one or both parties were unable or unwilling to give valid consent at the time of the marriage, such as due to intoxication or mental incapacity.
  3. Bigamy: If one spouse discovers that the other was already married at the time of the marriage.
  4. Incest: If the spouses are closely related by blood.
  5. Impotence: If one party is unable to consummate the marriage and the other party was unaware of this fact before the marriage.
  6. Underage Marriage: If one or both parties were underage and married without proper parental or court consent.

The first two would likely be the basis for an annulment if there is a concern over this. Annulments do cost some money but might be worth it if there is any doubt.

It’s important to note that the grounds for annulment and the specific procedures vary by jurisdiction, so individuals seeking an annulment should consult the laws of their respective areas by consulting with a licensed attorney. Additionally, annulments are not automatically granted, and the party seeking the annulment typically needs to provide evidence supporting their claim, but that probably would not prove difficult if the scam was reported to law enforcement. If an annulment is granted, it has the legal effect of voiding the marriage from its inception.

Reporting these Scams

In addition to the other normal reporting needs (learn about them at reporting.AgainstScams.org), it is important to alert your country’s immigration service about the scammer(s) as well. This will help prevent them from claiming the marriage as a valid basis for entry or VISAs.

For the United States, report to the Homeland Security Investigations Tip Line

In the U.S. call 1-866-347-2423, the ICE Homeland Security Investigations Tip Line, to report potential or known immigration violations. If you are in another country, call 1-802-872-6199.

Contact your own country’s immigration service to alert them. You can find their contact information via Google.

Summary

On top of everything that victims have to go through to recover from these crimes, this is one more burden to bare. However, it is important to understand the issue and make a decision about how to best protect yourself.

Of special concern: if the scam victim ever visited the country and the scammer in their country – this should raise immediate and real concerns. Do not ignore the possibility that the scammer arranged for a marriage to coincide with the visit even if the victim was not involved.

We recommend reporting to the Immigration authority in all cases, and if there were any form of marriage documents shared, then discuss them with a licensed attorney just to be safe and give yourself peace of mind.

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