A 21-year-old woman from Hong Kong thought she was preparing to become a wedding planner, but ended up getting married in Fuzhou, China as part of an apparent scam.
She was told that her job training in June included taking part in a “mock marriage”, where she and her “husband” signed marriage documents at a local government office.
But the documents turned out to be genuine, something the woman found out only after she returned to Hong Kong and her friend convinced her it was a scam, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Syndicate members had told her the marriage record would be voided and there would be no problem as they knew the mayor.
She eventually sought help from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), and her former high school teacher helped her to collect evidence in China, after police seemed reluctant to handle the case.
No money was involved in the elaborate set-up, but the victim told SCMP: “My biggest loss was having a marriage record.”
She initially applied on Facebook for a make-up artist apprenticeship which offered free training and required no work experience, but was convinced by the firm to take up a wedding planner role where she was told she could earn more.
After training in Hong Kong, she was informed she needed to pass a wedding planning exam in Fuzhou, Fujian province, which led to the “mock marriage”.
The woman remains married for now and may have to apply for a divorce. It is still not known who she married, or if the man has entered Hong Kong.
According to the BBC, Hong Kong police see a yearly average of 1,000 cross-border marriage scam cases, and Chinese residents married to a Hong Kong partner are able to apply to reside in the city.
“It’s a new form of marriage scam,” Mr Tong Kang Yiu, director of the rights and benefits committee of FTU, told the BBC.
“I feel disappointed and cannot believe it’s even happening in modern Hong Kong.”