"Til death do us part - or until I realize you married me as part of a complicated international scam."
It sounds like a bad joke, but a young woman was forced to admit she had been tricked into a fake marriage by a team of con artists.
Now, experts warn she's not the only one who had her heart broken.
"I do, I don't."
The 21-year-old woman says she was mislead into marrying a total stranger, during what she thought was a “mock” wedding ceremony but which turned out to be the real deal.
The strange story began in May, when the woman (who wished to be anonymous) applied for a high-paying job as a makeup artist on Facebook, and traveled from Hong Kong to Fujian, in mainland China, for training.
Her new bosses convinced her to train as a wedding planner instead, promising she would earn more money.
The woman now believes this was part of a complicated scheme by her con artist employer.
As part of the course, the woman was told to take part in a “mock” wedding, which included signing a marriage certificate at a government center.
The bride assumed the paper was a fake, but now says she was legally married to her “husband” from the mock ceremony.
“They said they would void [the marriage record] afterwards,” the woman said.
The clueless bride had no idea she had been tricked until she returned home and told her friend the whole story.
Fake Marriages A Growing Problem
Because of a lack of evidence, police were not able to press charges against the con men.
Instead, the unlucky woman’s story is being shared by Hong Kong’s Federation of Trade Unions, who say other young women are being tricked by similar scams as a way for their “husbands” to find work abroad.
In fact, a trio of con artist who lured Hongkongers into fake marriages were found guilty of fraud last week.
Mainland Chinese citizens with a spouse in Hong Kong can apply for a special permit to live and work in the city.
“We hope that by sharing this case, those who haven’t realized they were scammed will be aware” said the director of the federation’s rights and benefits committee, Tong Kang-Yiu.
The BBC reports that Hong Kong police deal with about 1,000 of these marriage scams each year.
It’s unclear if the woman and her scheming husband are still technically married - and she may need to file for divorce to break up her "marriage."
Thankfully, the scam didn’t cost her anything. “Her biggest loss is to have a marriage record and it has caused her psychological damage,” said Tong.
“We handed the case to the police for investigation. We are still waiting for advice from lawyers for further action.”