Ten ways to spot a Sanky Panky in the Dominican Republic

By: Lindsay de Feliz

One of the biggest industries in the Dominican Republic is tourism. The country boasts beautiful white sandy beaches all around the coastline, and stunning tropical countryside in the centre of the country. Home to the highest mountain in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, and the lowest point as well, the salt lake Enriquillo. Tourists come for all sorts of reasons; some come to dive, to play golf, family holidays, honeymoons, college spring breaks, and some come looking for love.

For those unable to find their special partner in their home country, the Dominican Republic is paradise indeed. Most Dominicans love the idea of having a foreign husband or wife, as beside the financial angle, and the opportunity to obtain a visa to travel overseas when they marry a foreigner, there is also a status symbol in having a partner from another country.

The vast majority of single ladies who arrive on the Dominican beaches will find a Dominican man ready and willing to become their boyfriend, whether they are looking for one or not. The problem becomes how to tell if this is a genuine man who wants a genuine relationship, or if he is what is known as a Sanky Panky.

A Sanky Panky is a man who is going out with a foreign woman with the sole purpose of extracting as much money as possible from her. Some will also be looking for a visa out of the country. Love does not come into it, and when the woman has outlived her usefulness, and the money dries up, she will be unceremoniously dumped for a newer and richer model, by which stage she will probably have spent thousand of dollars on her Dominican man.

So here are 10 ways to spot a Sanky Panky in the Dominican Republic.
  1. What he does for a living. Most Sankies will work in a place where they can meet the maximum number of tourists. This could be in an hotel, or a tour guide, or shops in tourists resorts. The best at plying their trade tend to be what is called animation workers who are hotel employees who perform in the nightly shows which the hotel puts on, and who run activities for the tourists during the day, such as beach aerobics, pool volleyball and Dominican dance lessons. Their role is to keep the tourists happy.

  2. What they look like. Sankies love looking good. It is usually their looks which attracts women to them in the first place, so they make sure they are well groomed and many will have excellent and well toned bodies. They favour the latest fashions, usually paid for by previous victims. The latest brand trainers, classy jewelry, designer clothes.

  3. The way they speak. Sankies waste no time, as time is money and as most tourists are only on holiday for a week, especially those from North America. They need to move quickly to ensure the woman is completely hooked before they leave, as it is when the woman leaves that the real money comes flowing in. They will usually declare undying love within a few hours of meeting, say they have never felt like this before about anyone and say that they want to give the woman a baby, even if she is well past child bearing age. By the end of the holiday they will be proposing marriage. They will always be able to speak English.

  4. During the holiday they will often ask the woman to come and meet their family. This is a clever ruse as it makes the woman feel special in that “he must love me if he wants me to meet his mother”, and it also tugs at their heartstrings as the family will always live in a poor wooden house, probably with no indoor bathroom and kitchen. The family will help with the whole entrapment process and be especially friendly and welcoming, and the woman will determine to help him when she sees how he and his family live and how nice they are to her.

  5. During the holiday the clever Sankies will not ask for much money, although they will take the woman out to restaurants and bars where she will be expected to pay. They may ask for something small like a mobile phone so that he can call her when she leaves. Good Sankies have several phones, each one with a sticker on with the name of the victim, so that they say the right name when each of the different women calls. The less experienced Sankies will jump right in with requests for computers, Blackberry phones, and iPads which can set alarm bells ringing.

  6. Once the woman leaves, the serious requests for money start. The first one is usually that the mother, who the woman has met, is sick and is in hospital. Often she has cancer and will die without a reasonably large amount of money. The Sanky will omit to say that public hospitals are free, and only medicine needs to be paid for, but will ask for around US$1,000 to stop his mother from dying. Following receipt of the money she will have a miraculous recovery.

  7. He is in jail. This one usually follows the sick mother. He will call and say he has been put in jail for something he didn’t do and unless he pays a vast amount of money – US$2,000 to US$5,000 then he will be sentenced to 10 years and will never be able to call her or see her again. All she has to do is send the money and he will be out straight away.

  8. He has lost his job and has no money. Some say they have lost their job as a direct result of having a relationship with a foreigner as it is against the rules. Some will say they can’t get any time off when the foreigner comes to see them so is best if they leave their job, and they will expect the woman to pay their wages. Whilst the usual wages are around US$200 to US$300 a month, they will be inflated to around US$1,000.

  9. The foreign girlfriend needs to be very careful of supposed female ‘cousins’ or ‘sisters’. Many Sankies will have Dominican wives, women they live with, have children with, but are not legally married. Legal marriage is rare in the Dominican Republic, especially amongst the poorer people. The ‘sister’ will know all about the foreign woman and will usually be quite happy about the situation, especially if there is plenty of money arriving. She, along with the rest of the family, will help her ‘husband’ to play the game of stringing the foreign woman along.

  10. The visa. The vast majority of Sankies will want to leave the Dominican Republic, believing that there are huge sums of money to be made overseas, much of which they can send back to their family and Dominican ‘wife’. The true Sanky will often arrive in their new country, and then walk out on their new wife, who has spent thousands of dollars to obtain them a visa, within a matter of days or months. They will often have more than one woman on the go at once, and may arrive on a visa arranged by one, only to go and join another.

Not all Dominican men are Sanky Pankies by a long shot. Many are good, kind and hardworking men with many great attributes. However, single foreign women coming on holiday to the Dominican Republic need to be aware of the dangers of falling in love, and being caught up in the expert web of lies and deceit practised by these men. If any woman thinks that their man might be a Sanky, they should just stop sending the money and see what happens.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingLindsay de Feliz is a British expat living in Dominican Republic. Blog description: The story of the life of an expat woman living in a Dominican barrio with her Dominican husband, step sons and an assortment of animals.
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Contest Comments » There are 31 comments

Cindi wrote 10 years ago:

Sooooo True...

Amanda R. wrote 10 years ago:

I really enjoyed reading this article. Tourists always need to be careful when traveling, but it can be hard to ignore the fantasy of falling in love while on holiday.

Ilana wrote 10 years ago:

Invaluable information that should be printed and handed out to every tourist flying to the Dominican Republic.

Nicola Cornwell wrote 10 years ago:

Funny and informative, as usual Lindsay's insights into what's under the skin of the DR delivers brilliantly

Smailyn wrote 10 years ago:

this is totally true I'm Dominican born and raised and it hurts me to admit but it's true and do not really know why this culture in my country as consumer and dependent visa and many only want dollars or euros, I never understood this if you want money, earn honestly not as dirty and destructive means for the other person! either abroad or not! totally against but good I recommend to all you guys play the game are more cunning than them!

Mary Ogno wrote 10 years ago:

I don't know why, but I'm thrilled to learn that this is a 'thing.' This was so funny to read- so good!

Chantale Cadieux wrote 10 years ago:

Sad but sooooooo true...

Alexis Santos wrote 10 years ago:

Great advice for women!! Very true!

Nickie Wood wrote 10 years ago:

I found this blog after a memorable trip to the Dominican Republic......I loved it so much that after reading about the Sankey Pankey I then read every other entry and bought the book, waiting to get the T Shirt!!! Fab

Patrice wrote 10 years ago:

Great insights. Certainly something that every woman should be aware of. Mine passed the test and I am happily married to my Dominicano here in Santiago ;)

Andrea wrote 10 years ago:

OOhh so true....

Nicola De Mota wrote 10 years ago:

Fabulously written, and hilariously true. As always :) Well done xx

Grace wrote 10 years ago:

Hilarious and sadly true. It should be hung in several places on the immigration line at the airport.

Steph wrote 10 years ago:

So true... I can relate it to many people I have met over the years. Ladies definitely need to be fore warned to realise the truth so at least they are able to see past the fantasy and recognise the genuine...

Karen wrote 10 years ago:

well written and so informative as always , great insight into dominican life and thoguht provoking for all us that travel there

Holly Nelson wrote 10 years ago:

This really made me giggle! It has made me want to head over and read the rest of your blog now!

Gordon Barlow wrote 10 years ago:

Excellent as always, Lindsay. You may have saved some of your female fans thousands of dollars!

Nicole Aldous-Minaya wrote 10 years ago:

Hi Lindsay! Wow! This brought back memories. I lived in Puerto Plata for 10 years and grew to love the people in my 'campo' Sabana Grande. The surprising cultural differences and the incredible lack of logic (ie. your septic tank) I could tell you hundreds of stories. But, as I read your 10 ways to Spot a Sanky, I re-lived all that happened between me and my first Dominican husband, exactly as you said only this time his sister had cancer, he was then arrested and I paid the bail and he got himself fired from his job so we could spend Easter Holidays together, so I had to send money for some new clothes so he could take me out when I got there. I got married to him, got him the Visa and off we went to live in England. He struggled a bit, especially when he found that the streets were not paved with gold and that he\'d have to improve his english to get a job. But in his charismatic style made hundreds of friends and we had a lovely life, albeit quite expensive for me! Then, he got his British Passport. Suddenly he wanted us to return home! So, I sold me house, my business, my car and dragged my son out of school and off we went to POP. I have to say that although I was well and truly suckered in, I had the time of my life. Once back he began to party, as he was now a wealthy 'sanky' who now seemed to like to go to the 'car wash' everyday (you know the ones with the sexy waitresses waiting to share a drink, a dance and.....Well, two years on and I'd had enough of him drinking all our money and I brought him to England on a supposed holiday and then ripped up his ticket and found as much work for him to do as possible to buy his ticket back when he was ready! I flew back to DR without him. He drank all the money he earned and eventually I divorced him for abandonment - The gringas revenge!!!! He's apparently still living in Ealing!nAfter living alone a couple of years in Puerto Plata I met the 'lesser-spotted DDD'. This is a breed that many gringas believe doesn't exist! The Definitely Different Dominican! Each new 'gringa' thought her man was different only to be proved wrong and under the pitying gaze of the more seasoned gringas. But I have to say, after searching and searching I found one! A decent, very-hardworking, honest, sincere (sometimes grumpy) but invariably charming Dominicano! I married him and am blissfully happy, so don't lose heart you girls who have fallen for the silken-skinned chocolate friend. There are some that are truly sweet and good to the core! Good luck and have fun sampling the chocolates! Nicole

Kris wrote 10 years ago:

Hahahahaha! As always excellent read Lindsay! I have been visiting the beautiful island for many years now, multiple times per year, and I just have a huge grin on my face at how brazen some of the men are there. I am grateful for the friendships I have made but am ALWAYS very aware of the poverty and the fact that I represent opportunity to them. Like every bushel of apples, there are rotten bitter ones and also very good sweet ones as well! It makes it difficult sometimes to decipher genuine friendships, but it always makes for good entertaining laughs! Thank you Lindsay for being such a good support system! :)

Melanie wrote 10 years ago:

"Stop sending money and see what happens" I say DON'T SEND MONEY TO BEGIN WITH! This is my biggest pet-peeve EVER. Would you go to the poorest area of your own country and decide to support a man there? Probably not! Don't do it here either, duh! Also, Lindsay, you forgot the Sankiettes - just as dangerous as the sankies. Same rules apply :)

Ann-Marie wrote 10 years ago:

Very interesting. How women (and also men with sankiettes) do they fall into the trap and pay thousands of dollars??? I just do not understand!

Paul Kavanaght wrote 10 years ago:

This is invaluable information that all tourists going to the DR should be aware of. It is all true, it is still happening, and not going away any time soon.

Karen wrote 10 years ago:

Hi Linda, Great article ... thank you for it. I've been holding this secret for a long time and don't know what to do with it. My best friend has been swept up by a DR sanky man working on a resort who is 23 years younger. He seems to be only smitten and very loving towards when he needs something like an Iphone, computer, motorbike, apartment, cash, gifts for the family, opening up a US account to put money in (she puts the money in). He supposedly works at a resort however I fear now that he is working at the airport. She thinks he still works at the resort in Punta Cana. If this airport job is true, it will verify what i researched so far .. that bottom line he is a liar. She thinks this guy is the guy, will propose marriage when she goes down to the resort. His ex was trying to get in touch with my friend trying to warn her about him but she would have none of it. As a friend, what the hell do I do to help stop this potentially dangerouse trap! She doesn't listen, she thinks we are alll out to deny her happiness. Believe me, this is not the case. There's so much more but I thought I would start with this. I cannot watch her do any more damage. How do you help???

Susan wrote 10 years ago:

Sad really! Especially when you open your heart and mind to a new culture trying to understand it for yourself when everyone around you keeps trying to "warn" you that Dominicans can't be trusted. And in the end any "good" Dominicans are lump in the bunch with the pathetic ones that would rather use and manipulate the goodness of other people. These men better be careful because or one day , after everyone reads this, lol! People will figure out what they are doing and pay back will be due! Lol! :) liers, liers, pants on fire! Love to hear the "gringas revenge" stories!

Tonya wrote 10 years ago:

@Karen I would maybe make contact with the ex but be careful. Many of the wives, girlfriends and family are actually in on it. And that is what makes it so ridiculous is that ok you can believe hes lying but EVERYONE around him. The funny thing is I think even though the dominican girlfiends sometimes are in on it, I suspect that they still get very jealous. So her attempt at contacting your friend is good. My exs girlfriend tried to contact me as well but I never responded. Wish i did now. Also I would show her this article! When she gets back to the resort he will treat her unlike any man ever has and parade her around town like shes a rock star but of course make her pay for everything but do his best to not make her feel like hes using her for money. Do whatever you can to convince her. Maybe you should tell her to not give him any money at all for like 6 months. And that includes minutes on his phone or a buying him gifts or a new cell phone and I guarantee after 3-4 months he will give up and move onto a new gringa. If he "really" loves her he will wait. If I hear the word "Te Amo Mucho" one more time Ill puke! :)Keep us posted. Curious how it turns out. maybe we should start a website with all of their names!!!

Karen wrote 10 years ago:

Thanks @Tonya. My friend is going down to the DR very soon for vacation, she is bringing two suitcases worth of gifts' for him and his family. She is paying for their travel on the island (instead of staying at the apartment she pays for). She admitted she is going to have to pay for everything because ... he has no money (poor baby). Me thinks this man has more money that all of us combined! Plus she still doesn't know that he no longer works at the resort she met him at. It's making me sick, physically ill that someone could have taking such advantage of someone for so long. My friend will not allow me to talk about it with her, she says its all lies. She seems to have an excuse for all his behaviour for the past few years. I guess I jsut stand by and watch???? @Susan - I'm not into public shaming ... but I'm also not into some leech stealing time and money and her good heart from my friend. So if they could be called out, I might be onboard with that!

Janet wrote 10 years ago:

As a Dominican woman who has watched, for decades, foreign women make fools of themselves over Sankys, I am relieved to see this article come out. All the same, I am surprised that it even had to be written. It all seems so obvious. Do you, in your own countries, date men whose financial and educational level is so much lower than yours? I think not. Do you, in your own countries, finance someone who you have been romantically involved with for less than two weeks? Unheard of. Do you, in your own countries allow men to talk to you and leer at you the way that these men do? You would scream "sexual harassment" immediately. So...WHY DO YOU DO IT HERE? Yes, we Dominicans are much "warmer", "more passionate", "more open", but Dominican society is actually much more conservative in many ways than foreigners are. But there it is - Dominican society. Most foreigners who come to this country never meet middle or upper class Dominicans. You meet lower class Dominicans who sometimes have not even completed Middle School and you assume that they represent the entire population of this country. Oh, and wait, you meet lower class Dominicans who have chosen to work in the tourist industry, many of them because they are looking for the kind of opportunities you describe. But just so you know, there are many, many lower class Dominicans who refuse to work in the tourist industry because they do not want to be perceived as Sankys or prostitutes. They do not want you or other Dominicans to think that they are that type of person. So...if you are attracted to a Dominican man, ask yourself where you met him. Was he your bank teller or your bar tender? Did you first see him leaving the office where he works or hanging out on the beach on a work day? Think about it. And...my only correction to this article - common law marriages are only common in this country in the lower classes. Anyone who can afford it and is serious about their companion, marries them, usually in the church. It is a status thing and, in a country where kids are expected to use both last names in school, it saves them a lifetime of embarrassment.

Donna wrote 10 years ago:

I just got back from DR. I met a bartender that is 17 years younger then me. We hit it off right away. We would hold hands at the bar and give each other the occasional hug. I feel some true feelings are there but I am not a stupid woman either the thing is though that he has not asked me for one thing and when I was leaving he kissed me and started full out crying...the tears were very real...we have added each other to facebook and bbm and have been chatting everyday...he says he really misses me and wished that I can come back and that he feels I am the one for him...I told him straight out today that I am a struggling single mom and that I have no money and he said that he would save up money for me to come and see him again...do I believe this man?? He seems so genuine and real and not asking for a thing!!

Sandy wrote 9 years ago:

Wow...yes, this is nuts! I've just recently visited the DR and had a 2 day affair. Of course it was amazing and yes he's a Sanky for sure! I've come home and sent him a few bucks here and there and gladly! He was worth it! But nope, I'm not gonna support that hottie! But I will say, those DR men are good at their skill of charm and bullshit! A local waitress warned me about being taking advantage of. I told her I didn't mind that since he was looking to be taken advantage of (jaja)...no but in all honesty...glad I read this article cause it would be easy for me to want to revisit mr dr hottie and keep sending him little $$ gifts that need to stay in my bank account! But no regrets...it was fun and sweet while it lasted. These men are good!

Edith wrote 9 years ago:

Thank you for the article,it was a fun thing to read but I agree with Janet, mostly it's all about using common sence. I will be going to Sosua in September and yes I will go there alone, because my husband and daughter can't have their holiday same time as me. I really can't imagine falling in love with a nice looking guy just because I'm on holiday, you don't leave your brains at home do you? When you don't have men running after you all the time at home you should wonder why they would do it overthere. Have fun, play the game but THINK!!! and don't become a naive little girl. I intend on having a lot of fun and I do count on some nice flirting but that's it.

RT wrote 9 years ago:

This was a great post. As a man with experience there you can almost substitute the woman for man and man for woman. As it seems to be the same games run by many of the women there. I have only been there twice. I have been looking for something like this for the men to be aware of. Thanks again.

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