Getting scammed on a second passport

April 27, 2010
St. Michaels, Maryland, USA

Yesterday I told you about the official way to go about obtaining residency and citizenship in the Dominican Republic– essentially, it takes about four years from start to finish until you receive your passport, though you may be expedited for investing $200,000 in the local economy.

As I mentioned, though, the country is [in]famous for shady practices like issuing passports that do not conform to official procedure. Local bureaucrats accept personal payments to backdate applications and residency permits, and higher level politicians play ball for a piece of the pie.

To be clear, this is illegal, even in the Dominican Republic. If you are a US citizen, it is also a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act… so effectively you could be in technical violation of the law in two countries.

Obviously, the FCPA is a ridiculous and naive law that puts Americans at a disadvantage. Bribery and corruption make the world go ’round… yet in the US, these hallmarks commerce are only reserved for the political establishments.

Regardless of the insanity of this law, however, it’s generally not worth taking the legal risk and putting yourself in a situation where you could be fined, imprisoned, or have your shiny new passport confiscated.

The other thing thing you have to consider is that, most of the time, these illegitimate passport options have substantially higher risk of being fraudulent. I’ve come across this in the Dominican Republic in particular.

To paint a clear picture, I asked a friend of mine (non-US person) who is in the weeds of the illegitimate passport process in Santo Domingo to describe her experiences. This is what she had to say:

“Dear Simon– A few months ago, I found a Dominican Republic passport facilitator online; after several conversations, I agreed to pay him $10,000 up front, and $10,000 once the passport is issued.

Since I really wanted to test the process, I went ahead and sent him the money to get the process rolling.

When I arrived in Santo Domingo a few months ago, the facilitator met me there. He seems like a nice enough guy, but my gut tells me that putting blind faith in him was a big mistake.

He took me to the local immigration office where I met with some of the bureaucrats who were handling my backdated residency work. One of them is a former judge and prosecutor whose English is reasonable and seems like a valuable resource.

The other lady was the office manager; she didn’t speak a word of English, but I could easily observe that she had the power to make anything happen at the grunt level.

As part of the requirements, I had to take a blood test, urine test, get papers stamped, pictures, chest X-ray, etc. I was told that I would have my residency within 30-days, and a passport a few months later.”

Simon again. That was almost 3-months ago. My friend still does not have her residency permit, and the facilitator has gone largely silent. This sort of thing is unfortunately all too common.

This is why the only way to acquire a second passport is through official, legitimate means… unless you have an absolutely trusted source.

We have already talked about Brazil and Paraguay, as well a as few other options in this letter. I’m testing some other solutions that I plan on bringing to you soon.