LONDON, Oct. 2 (UPI) —
British officials said they voided the divorces of 179 Italian couples after investigators found the people were all using the same fake address.
British police detective Jonathan Groenen said an investigation of a firm suspected of charging more than $5,000 to help couples circumvent Italian law requiring a three-year separation prior to divorce found 179 couples who used the firm’s services all used the same address in Maidenhead, England, as a proof of residency before getting divorced through British courts.
Groenen said investigators found the address was not actually a home at all, but rather a lone mailbox.
"It is not possible for 179 applicants or respondents to reside at this address," he said.
James Munby, president of the Family Division of Britain’s High Court, added: "Indeed, given the dimensions of the mail box it is clear that not even a single individual, however small, could possibly reside in it."
Investigators said a woman using the name Dr. Frederica Russo was at the head of the firm suspected of conducting the divorce scheme, and she used 137 different courts in England and Wales in an attempt to evade detection. However, officials began an investigation in 2012 when a worker at Burnley County Court in northern England noticed two divorce proceedings had the same listed address.
Officials have not announced whether Russo will face charges.