The complaints are serious: Tens of thousands of reputed centenarians are allegedly still alive, a third of irregulars are foreign recipients, terrorist beneficiaries receive allowances and fraud is being organized in networks. And the losses to French taxpayers amount to more than 50 billion euros.
MP Patrick Hetzel (LR), chairman of the parliamentary committee of inquiry into the fraud on social benefits, expressed his shock in March this year, after a hearing with Charles Prats. The magistrate then calculated a potential loss of around 30 billion euros, far from the moderate estimates of social security administrators, which allege that it involves a few hundred million euros at most.
Last year, at the start of the school year, MP Carole Grandjean (LREM) and Senator UDI Nathalie Goulet (UDI) had asked the Ministry of Solidarity and Health for the number of “Active NIRs“, that is to say the number of accounts in a format specific to people born abroad receiving French social benefits.
In the pages of the Official Journal of the French Republic, the administration concerned said that it had identified 12 392 865 people born abroad “having an open right to receive at least one social benefit”.
And it is on the basis of this group of policyholders that Charles Prats noted a first inconsistency: according to INSEE, there are 8,2 million people, mostly immigrants, born abroad in France.
By subtracting the pensioners living abroad (1,1 million) and the regimes specific to Polynesia and New Caledonia, the magistrate arrived at the figure of 2,4 million people born abroad registered in the French Social Security system. It is on the basis of a national average expenditure of 11 800 euros per NIR that the magistrate declared that the potential fraud could reach tens of billions of euros per year.
In detail, other inconsistencies also arose which had worried the magistrate. Of the more than 12 million policyholders born abroad according to the ministry, 86 percent have an open right to sickness benefits, 43 percent receive family benefits and 33 percent have pension rights.
By comparing these percentages with statistics on social assistance recipients in France, this would, for example, mean that 42 percent of family allowance recipients were born abroad, or even a fifth of retirees in France were born abroad.
These are highly inconsistent figures, according to the magistrate. The only explanation could be supernumerary security accounts – in other words, large-scale fraud.
Contacted by French daily Le Figaro, the Social Security administration stressed that “this does not mean that there is fraud with these Vitale cards”.
The magistrate underscored that there are currently 5 million “ghosts” in the system. Because this involved “immigrants” he said administrators as well as politicians were afraid to reveal this.