Benjamin Adams, a Disneyland employee in California, and Russian national Yuliya Kalinina stand accused of marriage fraud after the woman posted ads on Craigslist seeking a "green card marriage" with an American citizen for US$15,000.
Michael Godfrey, from the Cyber Crimes Centre in Fairfax, Virginia, started an email conversation with Kalinina to see if it was serious.
The woman indicated that she was looking to get married "platonically" and would pay US$300 a month up to US$15,000 until citizenship was granted.
Craigslist passed over details of the user's IP address leading to the woman's identification. Kalinina's Gmail account was also traced to the same address.
Kalinina married Adams in February 2006 and filed for citizenship status. Agents raided their house in September 2006 and Kalinina admitted to setting up the marriage as a backup plan in case her asylum plea failed.
Adams confessed that he had agreed to the marriage in exchange for a lease on a new Ford Mustang, which he could not afford owing to a bad credit record.
The two were married by Kalinina's boyfriend Dmitri Chavkerov, who claimed that he became a minister after signing up to an internet site.
The criminal case has just been opened to the public record. The pair face five years in prison.
The case highlights the extent to which businesses are prepared to cooperate with authorities when clear criminal conduct is demonstrated.
It mirrors that of email provider Hushmail which opened encrypted communications between alleged steroids dealers.
Cyber-cops bust online marriage scam
By Iain Thomson on Dec 3, 2007 6:43AM