I am licensed and registered in the State of Texas as well as numerous other states to perform religious duties that including marriage.
Often couples contact me to perform a marriage that I choose NOT TO as they fail to meet guidelines of the State of Texas or any other State that I’m accredited within.
There are many who do not and cannot understand legal ramifications and regulations associated with conducting a marriage simply because they “went online and became ordained.”
Ignorance of local state and federal guidelines puts these same people in a position of a felony offense which is commonly termed “marriage fraud.”
Ministerial Duties are not to be taken lightly, every document signed by me carries my signature that all mandatory elements have been met PRIOR to the filing of a marriage instrument.
Marriage fraud is a threat to U.S. National Security, financial institutions and the integrity of the immigration system.
Marriage fraud investigations conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) have revealed massive schemes that involve complex criminal organizations.
Neither victimless nor limited in scope, the crime of marriage fraud is anything but a trivial matter. Engaging in this fraud and trading America’s security for financial gain is a FELONIOUS and SERIOUS act with severe consequences.
Types of marriage fraud include:
1. A US Citizen is paid, or asked to perform a favor, to marry a foreign national.
2. “Mail-order” marriage where either the US Citizen or alien knows it is a fraud.
3. Visa lottery fraudulent marriage.
4. A foreign national defrauds a US Citizen who believes the marriage is legitimate.
An individual will be charged with marriage fraud if they enter into a marriage for the purpose of evading US immigration law. This felony offense carries a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000.00, and applies to both foreign nationals and US citizens who perpetrate this crime. Those charged with marriage fraud may also be charged with VISA FRAUD, harboring an alien, conspiracy and making false statements, each charge carries additional prison sentences and financial penalties.
FURTHER CONSEQUENCES INCLUDE:
US citizens who enter into fraudulent marriages assume great personal liability. The foreign spouse may gain access to sensitive, personal information including, but not limited to, bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, retirement and investment accounts, personal identity information, and family heirlooms.
Terrorists and other criminals can use marriage fraud as a vehicle to enter the United States, often due to the willingness of US Citizens. They can then hide their identity, gain unlawful employment, access government buildings, and open bank accounts and businesses to find icy further criminal activity.
Participants in marriage fraud may, knowingly or unknowingly, be adding terrorists, foreign intelligence or other criminal organizations, and will be held accountable.
To combat marriage fraud and other similar crimes, HSI and the Document Benefit Fraud Task Forces (DBFTF) in 2006. Led by HSI, the DBFTFs build upon existing partnerships with other federal and state law enforcement investigators with document and benefit fraud expertise.
Texas Twins Events and Reverend Wendy Wortham supports state and local law enforcement in their efforts to protect and defend the United States from illegal and fraudulent marriages which is why I REQUIRE seeing proper identification and the marriage license PRIOR to committing myself and/or my company to any suspicious marriage proposals.
It is a legal requirement in most states to ask the couple if they are marrying out of love and commitment to one another and whether they are present “of their own free will?”
I know of many instances where a friend or neighbor will go online to become ordained without the benefit of knowledge or religious background this same person is also unaware of state and federal guidelines that could and can make a huge mistake by marrying the wrong couple and attaching his/her signature to a legal document that later will haunt them.
Ignorance of the law is never an adequate defense for violating it, I attended a seminar recently and was amazed at the number of consumers that had no idea how important continuing education that is a requirement for registered ministers and officiants licensed with the state and county had been fined for their failure to adhere to these same guidelines. Personally, I think it’s simply too easy for many to just go online and become ordained with no background or education and finally legal terminology of what could or may be a fraudulent marriage that they now are involved in an investigation regarding that same involvement.
Wendy M Wortham
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