Singaporean woman jailed 11 months for sham marriage scam

Nguyen Thi Hong Lan was convicted of arranging a marriage of convenience between a Singaporean man and a Vietnamese woman.
Nguyen Thi Hong Lan was convicted of arranging a marriage of convenience between a Singaporean man and a Vietnamese woman.

A Singaporean woman was jailed for 11 months for arranging a marriage of convenience, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) yesterday.

Spa owner Nguyen Thi Hong Lan, 35, a Singaporean of Vietnamese descent, was convicted on Nov 5 last year of offences under the Immigration Act, and was also jailed for another eight weeks, in default of a $10,000 fine.

Nguyen was arrested on Aug 15, 2017, and convicted of arranging a marriage of convenience between a Singaporean man and a Vietnamese woman.

She was also convicted of abetting the man to make false statements to obtain visit passes for his "foreign spouse", said the ICA.

Nguyen filed an appeal on Nov 29 last year against her conviction. It was dismissed on April 24 by the High Court and Nguyen began her jail term on May 8.

The ICA said investigations revealed that Nguyen was approached in December 2016 by a Vietnamese woman, Duong Thi Anh Kieu, 34, who wanted to remain in Singapore to work.

Nguyen suggested that Duong enter a marriage of convenience and told her to pay $20,000 for the sham marriage arrangements.

Nguyen then suggested that Soh Sheng Chao, a 29-year-old Singaporean man, who was a delivery man in the shipping industry, enter the marriage of convenience as well. He would not have to fulfil any marital obligations but would have to sponsor Duong's visit pass and permanent residency applications.

In return, Soh would be paid $6,000 as well as $300 for every successful visit pass extension. If Duong obtained permanent residency, Soh was promised another $3,000.

Nguyen arranged for the pair to solemnise their "marriage" on Feb 9, 2017. Duong paid Nguyen $10,000, and $6,000 of the sum was given to Soh.

Duong did not live with Soh but stayed and worked in a spa operated by Nguyen to pay off the remaining $10,000 that she owed.

Nguyen also abetted Soh to make false statements in the visit pass applications for Duong.

Soh was arrested by ICA officers on Aug 15, 2017, while Duong was arrested on Aug 19 the same year.

Duong was jailed for six months on Oct 4, 2017, and Soh was jailed for four weeks on Jan 31 last year over the marriage of convenience and for making false statements in the visit pass applications.

ICA said it takes a serious view of individuals trying to circumvent its system by engaging in, arranging or helping to arrange marriages of convenience to obtain immigration facilities in Singapore. If convicted, a person may be fined up to $10,000 or jailed for up to 10 years, or both.

Correction note: This article has been edited for accuracy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2019, with the headline 'S'porean woman jailed 11 months for sham marriage scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe