Prosecutors in Bulgaria say they have smashed a passport scam which saw thousands fraudulently acquire Bulgarian citizenship – and with it, the right to travel and work throughout the European Union.
More than 20 people have been arrested, including officials.
Applicants are said to have paid up to $5,690 (£4,445) for fake certificates of Bulgarian origin.
Police have raided the offices of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad.
Staff at the agency were allegedly involved in selling fake certificates to buyers in nearby non-EU countries.
Many of the false applications are believed to have come from states with sizeable ethnic Bulgarian minorities, including Moldova, Macedonia and Ukraine.
Some reports suggest the agency was issuing about 30 dubious certificates a week.
Prosecutors say they are investigating the agency’s work on counts including bribe-taking, forgery and abuse of office.
Bulgaria ‘smashes fake passport scam’