Bulgarian Officials Illegally Selling Passports For Bitcoin

By Adrian Cruce

Bulgarian authorities recently reported that they managed to clamp down on international passport selling to foreigners coming from Easter Europe, with Bitcoin payments being used.  It was shown that citizens from different countries, including Moldova, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Ukraine perpetrated these illegal activities.

Several Bulgarian authorities were reported to have been involved in the illegal passports selling ring. This includes Peter Haralampiev, Mark Stoyov and Krasimir Tomov. Istvan Geshev, Chief Prosecutor of the State, declared:

Peter Haralampiev, Krasimir Tomov, and Mark Stoyov have been arrested for fraud with the issuance of Bulgarian passports to Ukrainian, Moldovan and Macedonian citizens.

As expected, legal counsels of all parties accused denied the allegations. However, the Bulgarian Prosecutor General added that there is clear evidence that proves passport issuing was facilitated with the use of Bitcoin as an exchange means.

Right now the government ended up in a really bad light because of this scandal. However, Valeri Simeonov, Bulgari Vice Prime Minister, declared that there is no intention to step down because of the agency’s corruption level.

Besides the government officials that were involved, there were also 20 other people that were quickly detained in the country as they were caught selling passports to citizens of the listed countries. According to reports, the suspects were charging almost $5,600 for a single document.

Taking Advantage Of EU Concession

In 2007 we saw Bulgaria becoming a member of the EU (European Union). Those that have an EU passport get access to the other member states. There are concessions on living and travelling within EU territories with no restriction or little restriction.

Selling fake passports is in high demand because of illegal immigrants that want to obtain legal documents to enter European Union countries. In 2016 there was a huge syndicate taken down in Greece, with many Ukrainian operators. Those criminals were specialized in selling fake residence permits, driver’s licenses and Schengen visas. At that point in time the fee to get a forged document was as high as £8,000.

The fact that Bitcoin was used to sell illegal passports in Bulgaria is a concern for people in the industry. However, we are still not faced with widespread use of cryptocurrencies for illegal activities, as many authorities from around the world declare.