Immigration Police are set to revoke visas issued to 193 foreign men based in the Northeast accused of involvement in a scam - registering as being married to Thai women to earn residency rights, a senior Immigration Police commander said yesterday.
Pol Maj-General Chartchai Saeng-iam also warned district office staff to be careful registering such marriages, saying that they could be charged with malfeasance if evidence of fake marriages came out.
Certification of the registration of a false marriage would be impossible without corrupt officials helping out, he added.
Indian men made up the largest unspecified portion of the 193 men, while the others were from Nigeria, Nepal, Cameroon and Iran - a group of countries for which Thai immigration and visa regulations are stricter than for other nations.
Chartchai said face photos and fingerprint scans would be collected next year from people entering Thailand, making it easier to identify and track tourists.
Another reason for tackling false marriage registrations between foreign men and Thai women, either against their will or with consent, was that tourist visas are easy to be renewed every year - simply via visa runs, although these were restricted a few months ago.
The "fake marriage scam" made headlines a few months ago when a Thai woman found herself unable to marry her Malaysian boyfriend, as she was already registered as being married to a foreign man - without her knowing. It was later found that an official at Non Sang District Office in Nong Bua Lamphu province had falsely registered marriages of 611 Thai women with foreign men.
The identity of other men involved in the scam is uncertain at this stage, partly because their names were registered in Thai and the correct spelling of their names in English or other languages is not known.