Types of Welfare Fraud

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The Department’s analysis of welfare fraud demonstrates that the principle ways in which social welfare payments are fraudulently claimed are under these five main areas:

    • Shadow Economy activity;
    • Concurrent working and claiming;
    • Identity fraud;
    • Non-habitual residence; and
    • Undeclared income.
  • In terms of emerging areas of potential fraud, a trend that is becoming more apparent in recent times is cases where the primary recipient becomes a Qualified Adult and the QAA becomes the primary recipient.  It is believed this trend is designed to avoid activation but also to avoid a requirement to attend for the PSC.
  • With the increasing move towards electronic service delivery, the whole area of E business is an emergent area of risk that is being noticed. Increasingly, sales and services are being offered on line, in some cases anonymously. This provides an environment where persons can actively engage in economic activity while hiding and masking the activity whilst continuing to collect social welfare payments. In this context, the SIU is actively using Facebook and other social media sites to investigate such cases.  It is also linking with Revenue to jointly assess any related risks.
  • A current area of investigation is the formation of companies or business entities which are being established solely for the purpose of facilitating access to in work benefits such as FIS. In many of these cases, the businesses only casually trade or are wound up soon after formation.
  • While not an area of social welfare fraud per se, the Department has witnessed increases in the number of PPSN applications for certain nationality cohorts. In all cases, the Department is ensuring that these individuals go through a face to face SAFE registration process and that their identity is appropriately authenticated. These trends have also been notified to INIS and GNIB.  

Top schemes in terms of fraud

  • The key mechanism for evaluating the risk of fraud exposure is through undertaking fraud and errors surveys on a systematic basis. In general, these show that non-means based schemes have a lower rate of fraud than means based schemes. 
  • The risk of fraud is also monitored by evaluating the number of reviews undertaken and the outcomes realised from these reviews.
  • The exclusive function of the Department’s SIU is fraud investigation. The largest volume of cases investigated by the Unit - as well as the saving and overpayment outcomes generated - is in respect of the Jobseekers Allowance scheme.
  • There is a relationship between the conditionality for receipt of a scheme and the potential and associated risks. The Jobseeker’s Allowance scheme requires that a person be available for and genuinely seeking work; must satisfy a means test and also be habitually resident within the jurisdiction.
  • In 2015, jobseekers savings from SIU Activity amounted to €34.25 Million representing 49 % of total SIU annual savings (€69.4 Million).
  • In 2015, the highest number of reviews undertaken by divisional Inspectors was in relation to the Jobseekers schemes.
  • The most pronounced areas of fraud detection relate to: 
    • Concurrent working & claiming;
    • Non Habitual Residency; and
    • Undeclared means or income.


Last modified:27/01/2017

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