Bulgarian Officials Arrested For Selling Fake Passports For Bitcoin

Crime, News | November 6, 2018 By:

Three Bulgarian officials have been arrested for allegedly selling fake passports and European Union citizenship for bitcoins.

Local news outlet Nova reported that Petar Haralampiev, Chief Secretary and the Head of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad (SABA), General Secretary Krasimir Tomov, and Mark Stoyov have been detained by Bulgarian police and charged with selling EU passports to more than 30 people a week.

During the investigation, the police found that fraudulent applicants from Ukraine, Moldova and Macedonia, all countries with significant minorities of ethnic Bulgarians, paid £4,445 ($5,800 USD) in bitcoin for bogus certificates showing their family’s origins in Bulgaria.

Mariana Todorova, lawyer of one of the officials, claims that prosecutors possess zero evidence that connects the officials to the illegally issued documents. However, prosecutor Angel Kanev said that a trail of evidence has been uncovered, including evidence that part of the money is transferred into a cryptocurrency.

“Authorities have confiscated bitcoin wallets, which prove that some of the bribe money has been converted to cryptocurrency,” Kanev said.

The prosecutors further said that there is evidence the fraud began in 2017, only a month after Haralampiev was put in charge of SABA. They also noted that nothing indicates that foreigners from other parts of the world had been issued the fake documentation.

In 2016, it was reported that Bulgarian-made fake passports with Schengen visas were found in the belongings of jihadist fighters who had been operating in Southern Italy. The jihadist, mainly made up of Iraqis and Iranians, reportedly arranged for a delivery of four fake passports made in Bulgaria for a price of €300 EUR ($342 USD) each.