Thu, Oct 18, 2012 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: Veterans fall prey to marriage fraud, city councilor says

‘OCCUPATIONAL’ BRIDES:Clusters of Chinese women are allegedly targeting elderly veterans for marriage, after which they try to hasten their deaths to get their estates

By Liu Jung, Chiu Shao-wen and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The areas around several public housing projects in Taipei City have become a breeding ground for sham-marriage scams, where money-minded Chinese women allegedly accost elderly veterans and trick them into marriage for a share of their estates, according to a Taipei city councilor.

A growing number of Chinese women, some who have been married more than once, frequently cluster close to public housing converted from large-scale military dependents’ villages and chat up elderly veterans, Taipei City Councilor Lee Hsin (李新) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said.

According to Lee, once one of these women has talked a veteran into marrying her, she would prevail on her husband to “seize the day” and smoke and drink without restraint, while feeding him tonics and frequently demanding sexual intercourse.

“This behavior shows that these ‘occupational’ Chinese spouses ostensibly only seek to first obtain their husbands’ money, then indirectly take the lives of their husbands,” Lee said.

He added that while the reprehensible scheme is tantamount to murder, concerned agencies have been turning a blind eye.

Lee brought the sham marriages to light after a complaint from a Taipei resident, identified only by her surname, Tsai (蔡).

According to Tsai, she resorted to Lee after recently discovering that her 87-year-old father, who lives alone on Muzha Road in the city after losing his wife and who has developed symptoms of dementia, has become acquainted with a number of Chinese spouses of veterans in a nearby park.

These women, Tsai said, are particularly courteous to single or widowed veterans, while giving the cold shoulder to those who still have a wife.

Citing first-hand experience, Tsai said that on one occasion, when she accompanied her father to take a stroll at the park, a woman with a strong Chinese accent quickly approached her father the minute she lagged behind.

“Ignore those witches. I will rush to your side and minister to you once my other half kicks the bucket,” Tsai quoted the woman as saying to her father.

Worrying that her father, who had expressed a desire to find a companion, could fall victim to the women’s sugarcoated words, Tsai made an appeal to a district office that it should notify her should her father attempt to alter his residential records. However, her request was denied.

Lee said that according to statistics provided by the Department of Civil Affairs (DCA), the number of city residents who have married after the age of 65 in the past three years stood at 346, 338 and 320 respectively.

Statistics released by the Executive Yuan’s Veterans Affairs Commission (VAC) also showed that the country now sees an average of between 500 and 700 veterans remarrying each year, with 80 percent of them tying the knot with a Chinese woman, Lee said.

According to regulations set forth in the Act of Military Service for Officers and Non-commissioned Officers of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍軍官士官服役條例), the bereaved spouse of a veteran is, if she refuses to collect indemnity in one lump sum, entitled to receive half of the veteran’s retirement pension.

A DCA official said that a 95-year-old man surnamed Lai (賴), who went to a household registration office in Wanhua District (萬華) in August with a recently divorced Chinese woman to register their marriage, was only able to escape a sham marriage because of the astute observations of the official.

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