MALAGA has become the benefit fraud capital of Spain following a 30% increase in cases in the region in the past six months, according to figures provided by the Inspection department.
A total 223 people have had their payments withdrawn year to date, while 45 companies have been fined for employing workers who were claiming unemployment benefits.
The increase is a partial reflection of the boost in the number of inspections carried out by government officials. In Malaga province, for example, there has been 13% more business inspections in 2013 than in 2012, while just over a third more workers, 35%, have been subject to checks this year than were last year.
A total EUR1.5m in falsely claimed money has been repaid to the government, with a further undisclosed sum due from subsidies paid to occasional agricultural workers.
The unemployment benefits bill here in Malaga is around EUR81.6m, of which dole payment accounts for just over half. In June 112,973 people received some kind of benefit, and the average payment was EUR791.90 per month.
The Ministry of Employment has set up a virtual message box so people can anonymously report anyone they suspect to be falsely claiming benefits.
People can also ask the Work Inspection and Social Security authorities to carry out an investigation by presenting a written request at the provincial offices.
Across the country, around 15% of claimants have had their benefits withdrawn as a result of false claims, half the proportion seen here in Malaga.