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25 people arrested for allegedly defrauding Social Security of more than four million euros
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25 people arrested for allegedly defrauding Social Security of more than four million euros

Four civil servants and four bank employees are among those arrested in Spain

Colpisa

Madrid

Monday, 1 April 2024, 06:48

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National Police have arrested 25 people for allegedly defrauding Spain's Social Security of more than four million euros by making false unemployment claims.

The arrests - which include four civil servants and four bank workers - were carried out in different locations in Madrid on Wednesday 27 March. The alleged fraud took place between 2020 and 2024. Investigations started in December 2022 after authorities detecting irregularities in the records of several employees while processing their unemployment benefits.

Police then uncovered a network involving public employment service officials, bank employees and administrative managers, among others. False invoices were allegedly used for purchases of vehicles or computer equipment that were to serve as initial capital to start the unemployed self-employed activity. The arrested public employees then allegedly made use of their credentials to access the SEPE databases and process false claims.

In exchange, the workers received constant monthly payments from the organisation's leaders, which could reach up to 50,000 euros. They controlled the final profit through bank employees.

Sources from the regional ministry of economy told Europa Press that in October 2022 the Directorate General of the Public Employment Service informed SEPE of a computer security incident and requested an audit on the use of information by an employee who was on sick leave at the time. After the audit, in December 2022 the Community of Madrid filed a complaint against the worker, National Police's cybersecurity unit taking charge of the investigation.

Social Security accumulates a deficit of 363 million euros

Details of alleged scam comes amid data published last week by the Ministry of Social Security which reveal a deficit of 363 million euros recorded in the first two months of the year, equivalent to 0.02% of GDP, after receiving 31.317 billion euros in this period, 7.5% more, compared to expenditure of 31.680 billion (+10% year-on-year).

This negative balance of the Social Security was recorded despite the system receiving 26.891 billion euros in contributions up to February, 8.1% more than in the same period of 2023 and 33.8% more than in 2019.

The Ministry also made public on Wednesday the figures for the whole of 2023, which show income from social security contributions rose by 10.3% in the year, its highest rate since 2004, to 154.633 billion euros.

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