The magnitude of benefit cheats and fraudsters in Greece has been exposed by the Greek government’s latest investigation into the beneficiaries of claimants and it seems that lying and cheating is a problem of pandemic proportions in the economically ravaged nation.
The government is clamping down on fraud as it desperately tries to fulfil its budgetary responsibilities and comes under heavy pressure from its creditors from the troika. So far the investigation has discovered that millions of Euros have been paid out to fraudsters creating a significant dent to the Greece’s coffers.
The frauds range from millions being paid to dead pensioners, parents who don’t even have children and blindness payments to people with perfect eyesight. Farmers have been receiving vast sums in state subsidies that compare to the salaries of top bankers or business executives. The investigation has also discovered that corruption is rife among social security workers with employees in the Social Security foundation (IKA) drove expensive sports cars and lived in luxury villas.
Staggeringly a total of 36,294 out of the estimated 244,887 recipients of state benefits have failed to register at Citizen Service Centers and according to officials the vast majority of the no-shows lacked any documentation to support their claims. Andreas Loverdos, the health minister, said in a radio interview, people from local doctors to members of local government were involved in the network that issued false certificates.
According to Athens news ‘a scam carried out by staff at the Kallithea branch of IKA, Greece’s largest social insurance fund, paid out benefits to recipients who were not entitled to them and who split the proceeds with others over a period of nine years. According to an investigation completed by the financial police, the scam is believed to have cost IKA more than six million Euros. The investigation, done in cooperation with the IKA inspection services, lasted two months and culminated in the arrest of six people. Police also confiscated the sum of 966,900 Euros and three luxury cars. Those arrested included four women employed at the Kallithea branch and two of their husbands, while the money, in notes of 500, 200, 100 and 50 Euros, was found concealed in a packet of disposable nappies in a storeroom owned by one of the suspects.’
The most infamous finding of the investigation (so far) was found on the island of Zakynthos (the island of the blind). Out of the 700 people claiming disability benefit for blindness only 100 had been appraised by health inspectors, and 60 of those were found to have good eyesight!, One of the benefits recipients was a taxi driver.
The sheer scale of corruption and fraud is staggering and the fact that the Greek authorities allowed the situation to get as bad as it has garners little sympathy from the international community. The Troika has demanded that the Greek government takes further measures to get its finances in order and it’s no surprise why. The Greek people maybe protesting at austerity and the loss of their jobs, but perhaps it’s time they gave themselves a good hard look and realise that they have to change their ways if Greece is to survive.
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