More welfare cheats slapped with fines

More welfare cheats slapped with fines
Photo: DPA
German authorities caught a record number of people cheating the Hartz IV welfare benefits system last year, according to a Friday news report.

The Federal Labour Office (BA) issued a massive 226,269 fines and penalties for abuse of the system, daily Berliner Zeitung reported. This was 61,636 more cases than the previous year – a jump of 37.4 percent.

The total value of fines and penalties climbed by nearly 30 percent to €4.8 million. The average fine issued was €105.99, which was actually €1.20 less than in 2009.

“The current figures don’t tell us that more and more Hartz IV recipients are cheating,” BA board member Heinrich Alt told the paper. “It’s more a confirmation that we are doing well at the job centres.”

Workers in the BA job centres were today well-attuned to the risk of fraud attempts and well-trained, he said. The number of BA employees dedicated to detecting welfare offences had risen from 620 to 700 during 2010.

In about 35,000 cases, authorities suspected fraud but were unable to confirm it.

The most common offences were failures to declare work income or extra financial savings that would normally reduce Hartz IV payments.

The Local/djw

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