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Welfare officials hunting dole cheats on Facebook

Welfare officials hunting dole cheats on Facebook

Welfare officials are scouring social media on the hunt for dole cheats.

Dole scammers who post pictures of luxurious holidays and flashy new motors will be caught out by investigators from the Department of Social Protection in a new scheme to tackle Ireland’s social welfare cheats.

Investigators will be looking for evidence of ‘welfare tourism’ whereby a claimant flies in to Ireland from another EU country just to collect welfare payments as well as proof of disability fraud.

Officials will be watching out for evidence of people living a lifestyle beyond the means.

Although a claim can’t be suspended on the basis of information found on social media, it can be used with other evidence as a basis to review a claimant’s eligibility.

A spokesman from the Department of Social Protection told The Irish Daily Mail: “Fraud investigative staff, as part of ongoing targeted fraud and error control activities, may refer to social media sites as part of investigations.”

“Details obtained from social media are examined and if relevant, will be used a part of the picture in an overall investigation. A payment is not suspended or stopped on the basis of any social media site posting but may, however, be used as part of the information corroborated with other evidence to review a customer’s eligibility to a payment,” the official said.

Figures show that there were 5,233 reports of dole fraud made of the Department of Social Protection from January to mid-April of this year.