The online edition of the German news magazine raises the old story of the fraudulent claims for blindness on the island of Kalymnos in Greece.
“Suddenly, hundreds of supposedly blind can see again: Another blatant fraud case in the welfare service revealed in Greece. In the island of Kalymnos many blind people were receiving an allowance, although their eyes were in perfect health,” notes the magazine and refers to 152 checks carried out in early June, in which it was shown that 100 people weren’t blind.
“The frauds relating to welfare benefits remain a serious problem in the heavily indebted Greece”, Spiegel writes. As the magazine refers, from the beginning of the financial and economic crisis and of the associated austerity measures, the most intense controls have shown that these frauds cost to the state almost 500 million euros ($650 million) annually. There haven’t been any reports of prosecution.
Over the last years, hundreds of frauds have been revealed, where supposedly blind, people with disabilities or supposedly retired people were taking allowances they didn’t deserve. The Minister of Labor, Yiannis Vroutsis, has assured that all the illegally wasted money should be recovered, as Spiegel stressed. He didn’t say how as the government previously said it would ask for the people who stole money to voluntarily return it.
However, as Spiegel highlights, the fraud in the welfare services “is far from being a purely Greek phenomenon.” As it is referred, in 2011, the Federal Employment Agency of Germany began imposing more than 177,000 criminal and administrative penalties for fraud, although it didn’t say if any were for fake blindness.