Man who wed six African women charged with marriage fraud

A Massachusetts man was paid to illegally marry six African women who had hoped to become permanent legal residents of the United States, according to a criminal complaint that was unsealed this week.

Peter Hicks, 58, entered into the six fraudulent marriages — to Grace Muiru, Lucy Marcharia, Nafisah Abdul Salam, Angela Chambe, Nancy Waweru and Josephine Acquah — over ten years between 2003 and 2013, The Washington Post reports.

Hicks married the women, all from sub-Saharan Africa, to illegally bypass immigration laws, federal officials say, according to the report.

Four months after his December 2013 wedding to Josephine Acquah, Hicks filed an I-130 petition, the first step in helping a relative obtain permanent legal status.

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The petition was denied by federal officials, who said Hicks was still married to another woman at the time.

The criminal complaint, unsealed this week, said Hicks was also hired to find other Americans willing to become fraudulent spouses. Investigators also believe that Hicks sought immigration benefits for four of his six wives, according to the report.

Hicks, a resident of Worcester, Mass., was charged with marriage fraud Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts said.

The serial spouse first raised suspicions in May 2009 when he met with an official from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services while in the process of obtaining benefits for a foreign spouse.

By then he had married four women, whom he admitted to marrying solely to help them obtain legal status. He revealed that he had been paid to recruit others to do the same, the complaint says, according to The Washington Post.

But it took until 2014, by which point Hicks had married two more women, for the Department of Homeland Security’s investigative arm to be alerted.

He said two men, who were not named, had arranged the marriages he entered into. He said he had found God and vowed to “set the record straight,” the complaint said.

The complaint does not explain why Hicks was only charged recently. Neither did it make clear who the men who paid Hicks were, nor where the women are now.

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