21-year-old woman marries total stranger after being 'tricked' by work
A 21-year-old woman from Hong Kong has recently claimed that she was "tricked" into marrying a man while she was working in China. The unwitting bride - who has not been named - says that she did not even know that she was married until she returned home from the trip.
The incident happened in May this year, when the anonymous woman responded to a Facebook post advertising a vacancy for a makeup artist. After applying for the job, the woman was apparently convinced to apply for the position of a wedding planner instead - something she eventually conceded to do, as the latter job paid a higher salary.
In June, she was ordered to take a training course for the job position, and that's when things took a dark turn.
She was sent to Fuzhou, China’s southeastern Fujian province, in order to sit an "exam" - part of which involved taking part in a so-called "mock wedding". During the process, the woman was instructed to play the role of the bride, read aloud her vows, and sign a marriage certificate that she apparently knew was real, but was told would be destroyed after the ceremony was over.
Of course, unbeknownst to her, the whole thing was a scam, deliberately set up to marry her off to a stranger. And it worked.
The certificate with her signature - and the signature of the groom - was never disposed of, and instead her marriage was legally recognised.
Bizarrely, this is not a one-off incident, either. In fact, Hong Kong police deal with approximately 1,000 similar such cases every single year - though not all scammers use the same bait to lure in would-be brides and grooms.
Speaking to the BBC, Tong Kamgyiu, the director of the Rights and Benefits Committee of the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), said: "It’s a new form of marriage scam. I feel disappointed and cannot believe it’s even happening in modern Hong Kong."
The reason that people in Hong Kong are being targeted by those living outside the province in China is that Chinese people can apply for residency in Hong Kong if they are married to a citizen of the autonomous territory. As it has a different government to the mainland of China, it is effectively a separate country.
"The 21 year-old lady was taken advantage of while she knew nothing about the circumstances," said Tong. "Her biggest loss is to have a marriage record and it has caused her psychological damage."
When the woman initially returned to Hong Kong and realised what had happened, she tried to contact local police. They were unable to help, however, as they had no evidence that an actual crime had taken place. This is what then led her to seek help from the FTU, who are far more familiar with incidents like these.
At present, it is not clear what has happened or will happen with regards to the woman's marital status, but it seems as though she is receiving help from the relevant authorities.