08/28/2012 06:54 EDT | Updated 10/28/2012 05:12 EDT

Man faces multiple charges in alleged bogus marriage scam

A man alleged to have posed as an immigration consultant appeared in court in Montreal Tuesday, charged with multiple counts of misrepresentation in a bogus marriage scam aimed at helping North African men stay in Canada.

Amadou Niang, 56, is suspected of arranging at least 315 marriages of convenience involving 630 people, most of them North African men seeking Canadian citizenship and Montreal-area women recruited to marry them.

In all, 39 people face 78 charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act — mostly for making false declarations or for marrying under false pretences. They will appear in court on Oct. 16.

"It was an anonymous tip that led to the project, called 'Conjugal,' the purpose of which is to address the legitimacy of hundreds of suspicious marriages," said RCMP constable Érique Gasse.

Gasse said the RCMP believe Niang worked with several accomplices to recruit single Montreal women to marry his clients in return for money.

Police believe most of those clients were men from North Africa whose visas had expired and who wanted to stay in the country.

Gasse said hundreds of other people could be charged in the coming weeks, in connection with the alleged immigration scam.