Not-so-blind justice for Italian benefit fraudsters

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Screenshot from a video from Rome's police force of a 'blind' woman supermarket shopping
16:55 CEST+02:00
Forty people claiming benefits for blindness have been arrested after police in Rome filmed them engaging in activities including driving, reading newspapers, supermarket shopping and surfing the web in broad daylight.

Rome’s police force has arrested 18 women and 22 men who were pretending to be blind – yet claiming thousands of euros in disability benefits.

During the investigations, police filmed the claimants engaging in everyday activities – such as scanning supermarket shelves, driving vans and cars, gardening, betting, doing gymnastics in the park, reading newspapers and surfing the web on their smartphones.

By April 30th this year, according to Italian daily Il Messaggero, they had allegedly tricked the Italian state out of some €3,583,000.

As well as claiming pensions, the police maintain, they had also been raking in €1,100 a month in disability benefit. The regional Court of Accounts will now be trying to recover the money.

In total, 759 people claiming benefits for total blindness were investigated since the investigation began in July last year, of which 40 were found to be making false claims.

The last such case, according to the paper, was that of a 69-year-old man in Valmontone who declared himself blind to the Italian Social Security services in 2007.

However, the man’s luck ran out when investigators noted that he was capable of avoiding obstacles and crossing the road unaided.

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In 2011 the same man was arrested after he was involved in a brawl. 

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