Foreign Couples Who Wed in Dominican Republic May Not 'Really' Be Married

Investigators have uncovered what they suspect is a wedding scam involving more than 200 British and Canadian couples who paid hundreds of dollars for Dominican marriages that were never officially recorded.

Four people have been detained — all employees of the Central Electoral Board that oversees civil marriages, according to Roberto Rosario, president of the board's administrative panel. No charges have been filed.

In a preliminary report sent to the board last week, the National Department of Investigations said uncertified officiants are suspected of colluding with hotels to swindle foreign couples.

The Tourism Ministry's Web site says registration fees of about $455 are required for Dominican weddings, though the fees can be higher if a resort plans the ceremony. Hotels can help submit the paperwork to the government, it says.

The allegedly fraudulent ceremonies took place from July 2007 to present at resorts in the eastern Dominican Republic, where foreign couples frequently travel for weddings and honeymoons.

The investigation began after the board received requests for marriage certificates that were not listed on its books.

Rosario said Thursday night that the government will address the lack of documentation for the affected couples. But he did not say how, urging patience until the investigation is completed.

Rosario said his agency recently held a meeting with representatives of the National Hotel and Restaurant Association to try to guarantee the fraud will not be repeated.