‘Wheelchair man’ jailed for four years for fraud

A man in southern Sweden who scammed the Swedish social insurance agency (Försäkringskassan) for almost 14 million kronor ($2 million) has been sentenced to four years in prison.

'Wheelchair man' jailed for four years for fraud

The three family members he claimed to be his around-the-clock personal care assistants were also sentenced to between one and two years in prison.

The 47-year-old man was convicted for aggravated fraud and benefits crimes and will also be forced to pay back just over 13.5 million kronor, local media reports.

After a car accident in 2001 the man claimed, supported by a doctor’s note, that his injuries were so bad he needed personal assistants.

For six years his two brothers and his girlfriend assisted the man and meanwhile collected millions of kronor for their work.

The doctor who was on trial for writing the note was however acquitted by the Linköping district court.

The 47-year-old, dubbed the “wheelchair man” (rullstolsmannen) by the Swedish media, resides in Östergötland, but spent his summers on the Baltic island of Gotland, as well as in California.

Following his car accident he claimed to be in such bad condition that he couldn’t even dress himself, but his fraud came to an end when suspicions were raised at the insurance agency and police managed to film the man while gardening with full mobility by his house on Gotland.

“This has given us both the strength and force to go after these people,” said Svante Borg and the insurance agency to news agency TT, about the verdict.

Several other cases of benefits crime have since been revealed. A verdict is expected in a case in Malmö on December 15th, and in Halmstad in western Sweden a similar case is also in process.

The insurance agency has increased its ability to digitally trace possibly criminal connections between those receiving assistance, and companies supplying it, as well as the assistants themselves. The cooperation with both police and prosecutors has also increased.

“It has given us a better opportunity to follow the trace all the way to the end,” Borg said.

Each year about 23 billon kronor is paid in compensation for assistance in Sweden, and those receiving assistance are often completely unaware that cheating and fraud is going on behind their backs.

“It is a business that handles large sums of money, and it is a very vulnerable group of citizens, which poses a risk to attract the bad guys,” Borg said.

The insurance agency roughly estimates that approximately one billion kronor in benefits for personal care assistants are wrongfully claimed each year.

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Germany cracks down on fake Covid vaccine documents

German police have set up a special team to fight a growing number of forged vaccine certificates being sold in the black market

Germany cracks down on fake Covid vaccine documents
People who are fully vaccinated can show their vaccination booklet, which has a stamp and a sticker inside. Photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

Police in Cologne have warned of a group of fraudsters selling fake vaccination certificates, a growing problem the scale of which is still unclear.

The police said the fraudsters worked in encrypted Telegram chats, making investigations difficult, and were selling fake documents with all the stamps and signatures, including a mark about vaccination with BioNTech or AstraZeneca.

READ ALSO: Germany probes Covid-19 testing centres for fraud

The fraud involved both real traffic in fake documents as well as scams luring customers into paying €100.

People in Germany who are fully vaccinated can show their vaccination booklet, which has a stamp and a sticker inside. Those who don’t have a booklet get a piece of paper.

Covid health passes are currently being rolled out across the EU, with a European health passport expected to be available from mid-June.

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on how the EU’s ‘Covid passports’ will work for travellers?

Over 44% of the adult population in Germany has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and more than 18% of Germans have been fully vaccinated.

German police have said forged coronavirus vaccine documents are becoming an increasing problem.

Last month, a couple in Baden-Württemberg was accused of selling fake coronavirus vaccination certificates.