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Ask the Consul

I just received a call from a close relative currently traveling in the Dominican Republic. They say they have been arrested and need an immediate wire transfer to cover their bail. What should I do?

November 7, 2011

Over the past year, US Embassy Santo Domingo has received a surge of reports of money-transfer scams originating in the Dominican Republic.  The Embassy urges extreme caution before wiring any money to cover requested bail payments or injury claims.

The scam works as follows:  the victim, usually residing in the United States, will receive a call from an imposter claiming to be either a direct family member, usually a grandchild or nephew, or a travel companion accompanying the family member.  The caller will state that they recently traveled to the Dominican Republic on short notice and are currently experiencing legal problems.  The imposter and involved collaborators will attempt to trick the victim into wiring a large sum of money to a private account to cover the alleged legal expenses.  Once the money has been sent and withdrawn, it cannot be recovered.

If you receive a call involving a request for money due to an arrest in the Dominican Republic, please exercise caution before transmitting any money.  Get as much information as possible from the caller while they are on the line.  Immediately try to verify if the victim is in Dominican Republic calling his/her family members or friends. If you can’t verify his welfare , then call the US Embassy and provide information you have collected.  Please keep in mind that, while the Embassy cannot provide legal advice or services, we are available at all times to assist American citizens in an emergency situation and can check with Dominican authorities to verify if an American citizen has been arrested.