Fake Bulgarian Citizenship Documents Sold to Foreigners

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Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. perpetrator / ˈpɝː.pə.treɪ.t̬ɚ / (n) – someone who committed a crime

    Some of the perpetrators in the scam were government officials, so their punishment was heavier.

  2. inclusion / ɪnˈkluː.ʒən / (n) – the act of adding someone or something to a group

    Many citizens were happy about the inclusion of the new law on human rights in the constitution.

  3. affluent / ˈæfluwənt / (adj) – rich or wealthy

    The developing country received support from affluent countries after the disaster.

  4. surge / sɚʤ / (n) – a sudden, strong flow of something

    There is a surge of tourists every holiday season.

  5. unscrupulous / ʌnˈskruː.pjə.ləs / (adj) – dishonest

    The unscrupulous official is always taking advantage of his position.


Read the text below.

An investigation found that some Bulgarian government officials have been selling fake citizenship documents to foreigners.

The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), discovered that 114 criminals on its wanted list had Bulgarian passports. Hence, the organization began investigating in Bulgaria.

According to the investigation, the perpetrators sold fake certificates to foreign passport applicants at £4,445 (more than $5,600) each. The certificates indicate that the applicants have Bulgarian ancestry, thus making them eligible for a Bulgarian passport.

The police found that the sale of fake documents drastically increased following Bulgaria’s inclusion in the European Union (EU). In the previous decade, around 115,000 people were granted Bulgarian citizenship due to the fake documents. Authorities have noted that these people did not stay in Bulgaria, but instead migrated to more affluent EU countries. This led authorities to conclude that the primary reason behind the surge in document and passport fraud is the EU’s freedom of movement policy.

The freedom of movement policy allows citizens of any member nation to easily migrate to other EU nations. Thus, the fake citizens can use their passports to get residence and employment anywhere in the EU.

Aside from Bulgaria, other EU member countries were also found to be prone to citizenship scams. For instance, Cyprus has a “golden passport” program that lets foreigners who invest in the country obtain a Cypriot passport. Since 2013, around 3,300 foreigners have gained entry to the EU through this program. While it is completely legal, there is fear that the scheme is being used by unscrupulous individuals and criminals to gain access to the EU.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Why is it important to find and arrest people who commit citizenship/passport scams like this?
• How do you think scams like this can be prevented?

Discussion B

• If you were given a chance, which country would you like to migrate to? Why?
• What do you think are some challenges that people face when migrating?