SOFIA - The story focuses on the plight of cash-strapped Bulgarian women who come to Belgium and the Netherlands as posted workers to care for elderly people who want to spend the last months or years of their life in their own home, instead of in a retirement home. The investigation focuses on one of the main players on the market offering such services, Seniorcare24.

The investigation revealed that the Bulgarian women employed by this group are being exploited. Their wages are kept far below Belgian minimum standards if paid at all. The women’s working days are marked by long hours, very little time to rest, and threats and intimidation by the company’s owners. Moreover, through a network of Belgian and Bulgarian legal entities, the company’s owners seek to evade any kind of oversight and, ultimately, legal liability.

Moreover, it is argued that, while this type of service is very much desired by elderly people, and could have real benefits for all parties involved, a framework that guarantees both the legality and affordability of such services and the well-being of the caregivers, is currently lacking.

Grant of €9.040 awarded in April 2017.


In March 2019, Slavery of Care was nominated for the 'Belfius-persprijs' in the category 'Television press'. The Belfius Press Awards is a series of annual press awards from the Belgian bank Belfius for the best articles or series of articles, audiovisual reports and photos that were published or distributed in the media during the past year.

Ruben Brugnera

Ruben Brugnera is an independent investigative journalist, based in Brussels. 

Michaël Merrigan

Michaël Merrigan is based in Brussels, Belgium. He has a background in international law, human rights law and investigative journalism

Jasmijn Post

Jasmijn Post is a Dutch journalist living in Brussels. She works for the local news outlet BRUZZ, where she covers, among other things, Molenbeek politics. 

Stanimir Ivanov Kumurdjiev

Stanimir Ivanov Kumurdjiev (also known as Stanimir Vaglenov) is the online projects manager at Media Group Bulgaria.

Anoek Hofkens

Anoek Hofkens is an editor (online and TV) at the Dutch daily talk show Jinek.

JF/JA2A/2017/402 & FPD/2017/1365


Fraude met Bulgaarse vrouwen in de ouderenzorg (BE) – Knack, 30 May 2018

Fraude met Bulgaarse vrouwen in ouderenzorg: zwoegen voor 400 euro per maand (BE) – Knack, 30 May 2018

Bulgarians Accused of Practicing Modern Slavery in Senior Care in Belgium (BG) – Bivol, 30 May 2018

Българи експлоатирали домашни асистенти за възрастни в Белгия (BG) – Bivol, 30 May 2018

Onderzoek Uitbuiting in de zorg (NL) – De Groene Amsterdammer, 13 June 2018

Непосилна грижа срещу 400 евро на месец (BG) – 24 Chasa, 14 June 2018

How to get around the EU posted workers directive – EUObserver, 20 June 2018



Fraude met bejaardenzorg, (BE), Telefacts (VTM), 30 mei 2018


Watch the full documentary here, Telefacts (VTM), 30 May 2018

Secondary publications

‘Moderne slavernij’ in de Belgische ouderenzorg (BE) – De Standaard, 30 May 2018

Peeters zit samen met Bulgaren over fraude met zorg (BE) – De Tijd, 31 May 2018

Jo Vandeurzen: ‘Activiteiten Bulgaars zorgbedrijf moeten eindigen’ – Knack, 30 May 2018

Fraude met Bulgaarse vrouwen in Belgische ouderenzorg – despecialist.eu, 30 May 2018

Importante fraude dans les soins aux seniors impliquant une société bulgare – Le journal du Médicin, 30 May 2018

Fraude dans les soins aux seniors: Kris Peeters travaille avec les autorités bulgares – Ciel FM, 30 May 2018

Esclavagisme moderne et arnaque dans une société de services pour seniors – 7sur7, 30 May 2018

Quand une société bulgare arnaque les seniors belges (et leurs soignants) – Paris Match, 30 May 2018

Fraude dans les soins aux seniors: Kris Peeters travaille avec les autorités bulgares – RTBF, 30 May 2018


Debate in Flemish Parliament during plenary session – Vlaamparlement.be, 30 May 2018