The scheme works like this: someone steals your identity, and uses it to get married to an undocumented immigrant for money. Then, when you are ready to get married, you can't, because you already are.
The New York World, a digital news enterprise at Columbia University, says that scenario has played out dozens — maybe hundreds — of times in the last few years in the city.
Reporter Sasha Chavkin says the unsuspecting brides- and grooms-to-be often don't find out about their official marital status until they show up at the City Clerk's office to apply for a marriage license.
"They are often very surprised," he told WNYC's Amy Eddings. "There's one women whose fiance was denied. She described how she went to the city clerk to get married and the clerk pulled out a transcript that said he had two marriages on record. She looked at him, and he said, 'I swear it's not true.'"
In that case, it turned out that the previous marriage was fraudulent, and the groom was able to clear it up.
The New York City Clerk's Office has, in fact, set up an appeals process to, in essence, increase the chance that love prevails in this city.
Since 2006, 240 people have appealed the city's rejection of their marriage license applications. Some 61 have succeeded, while 10 failed. The other appeals, though, are still being considered.
To hear Chavkin's interview, click above. His full article is here.