Robber pulls veil over Greek welfare system

Robber pulls veil over Greek welfare system
16 February 2012

Visually-impaired Athens Paralympic officials feel a statue of the Venus of Milo at the Tactual Museum in Athens in 2004.

AFP - A 29-year-old jailed for robbery in Greece was found to have cheated the cash-strapped state out of disability benefits worth thousands of euros for years, the semi-state Athens News Agency said Thursday.

Police found that the man, jailed in 2007, had managed to claim over 53,000 euros ($70,000) in blindness support for 13 years, the agency said. The claims began in 1998 and were terminated in 2011 after police caught on to the scam.

Numerous cases of welfare fraud have been discovered in Greece over the past two years after authorities began casting a closer eye on accounts in the wake of a debt crisis that has nearly driven the country to bankruptcy. Greece's health ministry says it had found entire areas with uncommon recurrence of a particular ailment such as asthma, blindness or mental illness.

The junior health minister has noted that more than 1,000 people in Greece's second city Thessaloniki were listed as heavily disabled, a number "that would have been appropriate if Greece had fought in the Vietnam War". Last year, labour ministry officials also revealed that millions of euros annually had been spent on retirement payments to long-dead pensioners.

Source: France24.