THAILAND - Hundreds of false marriages between Thai women and foreign men were registered by a corrupt official in Khon Kaen province between 2011 and 2013, it was revealed yesterday.
Some of these women apparently never knew that someone had "stolen" their name for marriage registration until they wanted to officially register their union with men they planned to start a family with.
A victim said she is living with a foreign husband in Khon Kaen. They decided to register a marriage so the baby would be entitled to rights from a registered marriage. But when they went to the district office, the registration system showed that she was already married to another foreigner, with the marriage registered in Nong Bua Lamphu, where she never goes.
She then went to Non Sang district office and was fortunate to meet with corruption inspectors from the Department of Provincial Administration, who were investigating the office at the time. She told of the her name being recorded as married, before finding out that the registrar there "sold her name" to foreign man to use it to register a marriage.
The official in question registered as many as 611 marriages while serving between 2011 and 2013. He has already been punished for counterfeiting documents, abuse of his work and intentionally registering false data.
Worapan Benjaworakul, the victim's lawyer, said yesterday that most clients of this scam came from India, Malaysia and Nigeria. They used fake marriages with Thai women for immigration purposes, she said.
A current registrar said the offender had done many illegal acts such as counterfeiting documents and faking witnesses for marriage registration.
The registration officer said that women on the list have to show up to verify that they are not married. They can then use the evidence to ask a court to void the "marriage" registration.
Meanwhile, three women called on the Department of Special Investigation yesterday to take action against cyber predators who prey on Thai women via social media.
Ranyaporn Wichienchotewat, the founder of the Thai Anti Scam Facebook page, said victims who had come to her had lost tens of thousand of baht each. One was duped out of Bt6 million (S$0.24 million).
Ranyaporn created the community page to warn Thai women about the risk of running into scammers on social media or dating websites.
She was once lured into transferring Bt20,000 to a foreign man after chatting to him online for about a month.
"These scammers use the pictures of good-looking men in their profile, claim they are rich and [pretend to] fall in love with their victims," Ranyaporn said.
She said some would then ask the woman to transfer money to them.
"Some other victims are blackmailed and forced to pay a huge sum of money after posing nude via social camera during online chats," Ranyaporn added.
Created in March 2012, the Thai Anti Scam community page has received more than 20,000 likes.
The DSI has promised to investigate complaints filed from Ranyaporn's group.