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Six people were wrongly paid over €200,000 in social welfare

The six cases have all been reported to gardaí.

Image: Wanderley Massafelli/RollingNews.ie

THE LATEST REPORT by the State’s spending watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) shows that six cases have been found where social welfare overpayments amounted to over €200,000.

The C&AG report released today, examines the cases – the six largest overpayments available at the end of 2016.

The report shows that the Department of Social Protection is owed €482 million in overpayment debt in total after 191,834 people were overpaid various amounts. Less than 14% of that was recorded last year.

The six cases have all been reported to gardaí.

The largest overpayment, to a person who fraudulently claimed €333,463 through impersonation, led to a five-year sentence for the offender. They have not repaid any of the debt, but will be forced to when they are released.

A further two cases, one where a person claimed €332,632 through impersonation and another who wrongly claimed €258,419 on jobseeker’s allowance, are under investigation.

Three further cases, worth €214,292 (one-parent family payment), €213,814 (jobseeker’s assistance) and €206,082 (one-parent family payment) were all investigated, but prosecution was deemed inappropriate.

The report found that there were 16,225 cases of overpayments due to fraud in 2016. Of that, 1,305 was for over €5,000.

The Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts Sean Fleming said that the report “shines a light on wastage and inefficiencies in the use of taxpayers’ money”.

“The committee is shocked to discover that little more than half of social welfare overpayments of €100-120 million per year are ever recovered. We will want to speak to the Department of Social Protection about what is being done to reduce overpayments and the weaknesses in its recovery systems.”

Read: €400k in cash seized from house in Ballymun, along with gun and cocaine

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