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Germany moves to stop fake paternity claims

German men are claiming fatherhood of children born to immigrant women in exchange for cash, prosecutors say. A new law is now being drafted to tackle the fake paternity racket.

Officials say growing numbers of pregnant immigrant women are paying German men to pose as fathers so that they can qualify for residency. The scheme allows for the children to become citizens and for their mothers to qualify for legal residency in Germany.

According to a report by regional broadcaster RBB (Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg), there has been a rise in asylum requests from pregnant women from Vietnam, Africa and Eastern Europe. The women typically enter the country on tourist visas.

Some pregnant women are reported to have paid fake fathers as much as €5,000 to get paternity registered. Once that is done, the baby automatically becomes a German citizen and the mother has the right to stay.

The men have very little to lose in the transaction as they are typically unemployed. Thus, the state becomes responsible for supporting the women and children through welfare payments.

According to RBB, Berlin alone has seen around 700 fake fatherhood or paternity cases in recent months.

“We are talking about a large number of cases which we come across every month,” Berlin prosecutor Martin Steltner said, as quoted by RBB. “In some cases we have people who have claimed fatherhood for over ten babies.”

The practice is not confined to Berlin, however, and are reportedly occurring across the country, with Interior Ministry Undersecretary Ole Schroder saying the “estimated number of unknown cases is high.”

“…The fake fathers do it to make money, which means that we are dealing with serious crime,” he added.

However, authorities have very little power to do anything about such scams, because German law states that any man who claims to be the father of a child is recognized as such – regardless of whether they are the biological father.

“For this reason, we don’t have the legal means to investigate these cases,” said Steltner.

That is set to change, however, with the Bundestag recently adopting a legislative package which will allow authorities to act on suspicions of fatherhood fraud.

Vivian Asamoah

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