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27 June 2024, 7:27am
Media Release

Marriage fraud: Fake celebrant sentenced after defrauding five couples

A Melbourne man has been sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to impersonating a Commonwealth officer and performing fake ceremonies solemnising five invalid marriages.

The man, 31, pretended to be an authorised celebrant while defrauding five couples between $700 - $1000 dollars each for his marriage services between March 2022 and April 2023.

The fake celebrant illegally solemnised the marriages of five couples in Victoria on their respective wedding days during the same period. All marriages performed by the offender are considered invalid. 

AFP officers commenced their investigation after the fifth couple reported the man, unable to locate his name on the register of authorised celebrants.

The AFP arrested the man on Monday 19 February, 2024, following confirmation from the Attorney-General’s Department that he was not an authorised marriage celebrant registered under the Commonwealth.

The man faced the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on Monday 24 June 2024, where he pled guilty to:

  • Four counts of solemnisation of a marriage by an unauthorised person, contrary to s 101 of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth); and
  • One count of impersonation of public official, namely an authorised celebrant, contrary to s 148.1(3) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

He was handed a six-month Community Corrections Order (CCO) with a single condition of performing 50 hours’ of community work.

AFP Detective Superintendent Donna Tankard said this was a unique case that could have had serious repercussions for the couples who were married under deceptive circumstances. 

“Impersonating an authorised and registered marriage celebrant in Australia is an extremely deceitful act and this could have had serious financial, religious, and legal consequences for the couples who were victims of this deception,” Det-Supt Tankard said.

“The AFP has a zero-tolerance approach to individuals committing fraud, and other forms of corruption. The AFP will continue to work with its state and Commonwealth law enforcement partners to proactively target, identify, and disrupt fraudsters who are attempting to exploit and profit from members of the community.”

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