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More than 21,000 anonymous welfare tip-offs were made last year

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Over 21,000 social welfare tip-offs were made to the Department of Social Protection last year
Over 21,000 social welfare tip-offs were made to the Department of Social Protection last year

Over 21,000 social welfare tip-offs were made to the Department of Social Protection last year, figures show.

Many of the tip-offs were lodged through the Department website's 'suspect fraud' section.

Most of the reports lodged alleged people who were claiming benefits were working while doing so. Some concerned lone parents who were co-habiting with other individuals while some pertained to people claiming benefits outside of their jurisdiction. 

The Department of Social Protection said they saved more than half a billion euro by preventing welfare fraud and overpayments. A number of Gardai last year joined the Department's investigation unit which was established to tackle social welfare fraud. 

The number of tip-offs peaked in 2012 at 28,000 and was 25,000 in 2013. Before the Celtic Tiger era, just under 1,000 tip-offs were made. 

In spite of the high number of suspected cases, only a minority of investigations result in welfare payments being stopped or reduced. The majority of reports do not contain sufficient information, or contain incorrect allegations.

New figures to be published shortly will show that the Department recorded “control savings” of €505m as a result of fraud over-payments.

Investigators are also targeting airports to foil claimants who are flying in and out to sign on. About 90 detections of individuals flying in from the UK and Poland, often following tip-offs from Irish citizens, were made in the last year or so.