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DEBT

Debt troubles affecting Swedes in record numbers

More and more Swedes are finding themselves hampered by unpaid debts.

Fresh statistics from the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden), show it received a record 912,000 applications for debt collection orders 2007.

In addition receiving a record number of collection order applications, Kronofogden also assisted 7,000 Swedes reorganize personal debts in 2007, an increase of 78 percent compared with 2006.

“The picture that emerges in our annual report shows that over indebtedness has been, and continues to be, a big problem–both for those individuals affected as well as for society at large,” agency head Eva Liedström Adler said in a statement.

Kronofogden estimates that indebtedness costs Sweden 30 to 50 billion kronor ($4.8 to 7.9 billion) per year and that approximately 400,000 Swedes are in danger of not being able to pay their bills in the near future.

One positive result for 2007 is the reduction of the number of individuals and companies on the agency’s debt registry by 6,000, or 1.2 percent compared with 2006.

In addition, Kronofogden’s efforts have resulted in a 50 percent drop in the number of Swedes under 18 years of age registered with agency over the last five years.

ART

Gothenburg teen behind ‘homeless beggar’ hoax

A 13-year-old boy has revealed that a mock-up of a homeless man that caused a stir in Gothenburg this week was actually part of a school art project.

The young student, identified only as Adam by regional newspaper GT, said he thought homelessness had become a a common sight on the streets of his hometown.

“Partly I did it as something fun, partly I did it because beggars are part of the city now,” he told GT.

“Some people give money without really checking who they’re giving it to. I wanted to show that things aren’t always what they seem.”

Adam told GT that he made the life-size doll out of cardboard and second-hand clothing.

He then placed the doll at the city’s train station, before carrying it over to a park near the central thoroughfare Avenyn.

The mysterious “fake beggar” went on to garner national media attention after national news agency TT wrote about the doll, quoting a police spokesman who theorized it could be a case of fraud.

The doll, which even had a beer can in its hand, even attracted the attention of several passersby.

“I was standing a short distance away and filming how people reacted, that’s part of the project,” he told GT, explaining that the entire installation is part of a school art assignment.

In the end, a passer-by had placed seven kronor ($1.10) next to the mock-up, a sum that Adam eventually chose to gave to a real life person asking for money on the street.

The Local/at

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