• Sweden edition
 

Disabled 'trafficked' to Sweden in benefits fraud

Published: 10 Jun 2011 08:33 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Jun 2011 08:33 GMT+02:00

Instead of receiving benefits, the disabled victims instead end up owing their recruiters money, finding themselves in a situation akin to indentured servitude, Svergies Television (SVT) reports.

Using promises of living large, representatives from shady firms offering personal assistance services convince their disabled victims to move to Sweden, according to police.

"They pick up disabled people from around the world in order to get customers for their companies," police investigator Karl-Arne Ockell told SVT.

But in order to get by while waiting for the benefits to kick in, the victims must borrow money from their recruiters, who instead keep most of the ensuing benefits for themselves.

"They borrow a lot of money, up to 200,000 to 300,000 kronor ($32,000 to $48,000), and then find themselves in a position of dependency and practically end up as serfs," police said Ockell.

"These people are incredibly crafty; they know more about the system than I do. Many are connected to lawyers and the legislation in this area really isn't very good, it's full of holes," Claes Björnerhag, chief fraud investigator with the Halland County police, told the TT news agency.

Sweden's 1994 laws governing the support and services to be provided to disabled people (lagen om stöd och service till vissa funktionshindrade – LSS) gives disabled people the right to the assistance they need for daily living and, to the extent possible, allow them to lead lives like anyone else.

The legislation includes a law on compensation for personal assistance (LASS – Lagen om assistansersättning) which allows disabled people to receive money to cover the costs of hiring a personal assistant.

The law was first heralded as a triumph for Sweden's disabled, but concerns about fraud soon emerged.

Despite a number of changes to the law in the intervening years, unscrupulous companies still managed to defraud the system.

After a recent slew of scandals involving personal assistant providers, the government set up an investigative commission within the health ministry to see what can be done to close the loopholes.

The commission's suggestions are expected to be completed in February 2012.

According to Björnerhag, one of the biggest problems is that personal assistance companies aren't required to provide Sweden's Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), which means any remaining gains stay with the company.

"The law needs to be changed so that there's no way to make a profit," said Björnerhag.

Three investigations into benefits fraud schemes involving the recruitment of disabled people from abroad have led to convictions of fifteen people so far, but exactly how widespread the problem may be remains unclear.

Employees at the agency are keenly aware of the fraud related to personal assistants and the "importing" of physically disabled people to Sweden for the purpose of committing benefits fraud.

"It's a very worrisome phenomenon which reminds one of trafficking," the agency's deputy director Stig Orustfjord told TT.

Last autumn the Social Insurance Agency teamed up with the police, tax authorities, financial crimes investigators and the Migration Board (Migrationsverket) in hopes of uncovering fraud by to see whether firms' bookkeeping, work permits, and employers' fees are accounted for and correct.

"We're going after this industry in the same we we've taken on other industries where widespread fraud is suspected, like pubs and restaurants and taxi services," said Orustfjord.

He suspects that about 10 percent of the roughly 20 billion kronor paid out in benefits is lost to fraud.

Sweden's main association for the disabled, Handikappförbunden, also wants to see better supervision and tougher rules for personal assistant providers.

"It's a real tragedy. Now they get permits and then they can clearly do what they want. There's a duty to have tighter supervision and controls so that companies can't go out and trick people," the association's chair, Ingrid Burman, told TT.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

09:15 June 10, 2011 by byke
Pidgin journalism ...... That article was utter tripe.
09:32 June 10, 2011 by ruimove
and the SD voted yesterday with the red/green to boost the sick benefits..lol!

that's good that the state knows about this, after all, we tax payers are the ones paying for this scams.
10:06 June 10, 2011 by Streja
ruimove, sick benefits have nothing to do with personal assistance.
11:47 June 10, 2011 by RobinHood
" .....about 10 percent of the roughly 20 billion kronor paid out in benefits is lost to fraud."

Oh dear! Never mind! Carry on everybody, nothing to see here.
12:07 June 10, 2011 by ruimove
Streja, maybe I'm wrong but don't people not working due o sickness able to get personal assistance?
12:22 June 10, 2011 by Syftfel
"promises of generous benefits"? The story speaks for itself. Close the gates. Now!!!!
20:10 June 10, 2011 by Streja
ruimove, sickness like cancer is not like being disabled.
11:39 June 11, 2011 by Puffin
@ rui move

You seem not to know the difference between temporary sickness - ie being off work for a period of time while you are ill or injured and being permanently disabled
Today's headlines
Boy receives cancer vaccine by mistake
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Boy receives cancer vaccine by mistake

A boy scheduled to be vaccinated against mumps, measles, and rubella instead received a vaccine against cervical cancer. His family has now reported the blunder for inspection. READ  

Sweden grants additional funds to jobs agency
Photo: Bertil Enevåg Ericson/TT

Sweden grants additional funds to jobs agency

The Swedish government has announced that it will increase funding to the jobs agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) in 2015, primarily to cover personnel costs but also to prevent long-term unemployment. READ  

Police 'powerless' against street racers
Police on E4 highway. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police 'powerless' against street racers

Stockholm police said they were powerless to react when streetracers took over at "insane speeds" on a large highway on Friday night. READ  

Saab carmaker wins receivership
Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Saab carmaker wins receivership

After initial rejection, a Chinese-owned company set up to take over Saab's assets after the troubled Swedish carmaker's bankruptcy said on Friday it had succeeded in being placed in receivership. READ  

Woman suffers cardiac arrest while giving birth
Photo: Tomas Oneborg/TT

Woman suffers cardiac arrest while giving birth

A 30-year-old woman went into cardiac arrest while giving birth at a Stockholm clinic - without hospital staff noticing that anything was wrong. She remains in a critical condition on Friday. READ  

Champions League
History repeats for Malmö fifty years later
Striker Magnus Eriksson during Malmö's 3-0 win over Salzburg in a Champions League qualifier. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

History repeats for Malmö fifty years later

Malmö's entry into the Champions League serves as a reminder of times gone by in European football. With Spain's champions bound for Sweden things just couldn't be better, writes contributor Lee Roden. READ  

Elections 2014
Löfven promises jobs to 50,000 young Swedes
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Löfven promises jobs to 50,000 young Swedes

Social Democrat party leader Stefan Löfven announced on Friday his "most important election promise", a 90-day job guarantee programme for young Swedes. READ  

 Sweden to buy fighter jets despite Swiss pullout
The Jas Gripen fighter aircraft. File photo: Wikimedia

Sweden to buy fighter jets despite Swiss pullout

Sweden said Friday it would go ahead with the purchase of a new generation of Saab Gripen fighter jets, despite Switzerland pulling out of a major co-financing deal. READ  

Three hurt after northern knife attack

Three hurt after northern knife attack

Three people are in hospital after they were stabbed during what police suspect was a gang-related attack in Umeå. READ  

Stockholm 'thief' turns out to be trainee ninja

Stockholm 'thief' turns out to be trainee ninja

Stockholm police rushed to the scene when a worried Swede reported that their neighbours were the victim of a break-in - but when officers arrived, they found nothing but a ninja in the middle of practice. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching August 27
Gallery
Top ten false friends in Swedish
National
Roma advocate scoops Wallenberg prize
Society
Meet the man who made a Swedish store recall its high heels for kids
Business & Money
'How I came to run my own business in Sweden'
Blog updates

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 

25 August

The Dollar Store (Blogweiser) »

"A dollar store in Sweden. Blog post: http://t.co/tNuuvcP1q0 #USD #greenbacks #sweden #sverige pic.twitter.com/RHFAYf7U1k — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) August 23, 2014 There’s a chain here in Sweden called The DollarStore. This name always stood out to me in a country where they don’t use dollars. I went there for the first time this weekend. They actually accepted greenbacks..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
Expert explains why Sweden's election oozes uncertainty
National
City plays Schindler's List theme at Nazi rally
Society
For Stockholm Fashion Week, here's the A-Z of Swedish fashion
National
'Amnesiac' man avoids deportation for ten years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Business & Money
Swedish city all set for six-hour workday trial
Business & Money
Five golden rules for the Swedish job hunt
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Gallery
People-watching August 22-24
National
Armed royal guards caught (very) drunk on the job
National
Sweden orders textbook on Roma discrimination
Gallery
Violent anti-Nazi demonstrations in Malmö
Society
A closer look at Sweden's five official minority languages
Gallery
See the destruction from the southern Sweden floods
Politics
'Sweden Democrats hold the key to elections'
Society
Swedes celebrate first day of smelly fish season
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching August 20th
Society
Did you know the Bronx in NYC was named after a Swede?
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

759
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se