Melbourne Man Sentenced for Impersonating Commonwealth Officer and Performing Fake Marriages

Australia, Police

Article: A Melbourne man has been handed a sentence by the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to impersonating a Commonwealth officer and conducting fraudulent marriage ceremonies. The 31-year-old man pretended to be an authorized celebrant and defrauded five couples for marriage services, charging them between $700 and $1000 each. The illegal marriages were conducted between March 2022 and April 2023, and all are considered invalid.

The investigation was initiated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) after the fifth couple reported the man’s absence from the register of authorized celebrants. The AFP arrested the man on February 19, 2024, after confirmation from the Attorney-General’s Department that he was not a registered marriage celebrant.

Appearing in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on June 24, 2024, the man pleaded guilty to the charges. He received a six-month Community Corrections Order (CCO) with the requirement to perform 50 hours of community work. This unique case was highlighted by AFP Detective Superintendent Donna Tankard, who emphasized the severe consequences the couples could have faced financially, religiously, and legally due to the deceitful act.

Det-Supt Tankard affirmed the AFP’s zero-tolerance approach towards fraud and corruption. She highlighted that the AFP will continue collaborating with state and Commonwealth law enforcement agencies to identify and disrupt fraudsters who exploit and profit from members of the community.

This case serves as a reminder to the public to verify the credentials of any service provider they engage with, especially in matters as significant as marriage ceremonies.