A 21-year-old Hong Kong woman has said she was tricked into marrying a complete stranger on the mainland while taking part in a “mock” wedding.
The woman has said she was told that she had to play the role of a bride in a simulated wedding as part of her training to be a wedding planner.
During the ceremony she and the man signed a genuine marriage document.
She only realised she was actually married after returning to Hong Kong, where she sought legal help.
Local police were unable to help due to a lack of evidence that a crime had taken place, so she approached the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU).
“It’s a new form of marriage scam,” Tong Kamgyiu, 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.”
‘Taken advantage of’
In May, the 21-year-old – who has not been named – saw a listing on Facebook for a make-up artist apprenticeship.
But after applying, she was convinced by the firm to switch to a wedding planner role.
She was given a week’s worth of free training in Hong Kong and was told she needed to participate in a mock wedding in the Chinese province of Fuzhou to pass the course.
In July, she signed a marriage application document in a local government centre. According to the South China Morning Post, the company told her the marriage would be “void” afterwards.
But after coming back to Hong Kong, one of her classmates convinced her that it was a scam.
She remains married for now and may have to apply for a divorce. It is unclear who the man she married is, or if he entered Hong Kong after the marriage.
“The 21 year-old lady was taken advantage of while she knew nothing about the circumstances,” said Mr Tong.
“Her biggest loss is to have a marriage record and it has caused her psychological damage.”
Each year, Hong Kong police see an average of 1000 cross-border marriage scam cases.
Chinese residents who are married to a Hong Kong partner are able to apply to reside in the city.