01/17/2013 06:28 EST | Updated 03/19/2013 05:12 EDT

Border agency charges 7 in alleged 'marriage of convenience' scheme in Toronto

TORONTO - Canada Border Services Agency has charged seven people in the Toronto area in connection with an investigation into what it calls a "marriage of convenience" scheme.

The agency says the accused acted as go-betweens who arranged for Canadian citizens to marry and sponsor Chinese nationals.

It says a four-year investigation revealed the marriages were bogus and done to let the in-name-only spouses gain entry status in Canada — for a fee of $30,000 to $35,000 dollars each.

The seven people face several counts under federal immigration law of counselling or aiding and abetting persons to commit misrepresentation.

The Conservative government moved last October to stiffen rules on marriage fraud by requiring some immigrant spouses to live with their sponsor for two years or risk losing their permanent resident status.