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21 November, 2019
 
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Police make headway in welfare fraud

Investigators seek court warrants to examine bank accounts in Limassol housing scam

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Investigators are still trying to unravel a housing scam in Limassol that was set up to defraud state authorities by using people who were homeless and in need for help.

Police prosecutors are reportedly seeking court warrants in order to examine the private bank accounts of three suspects involved in a housing scam in Limassol.

A 46-year-old male, who is the head of an unregistered NGO dealing with homelessness, is the primary suspect in the case, along with a 57-year-old hotel owner and his 66-year-old employee who worked as a receptionist.

The three suspects are being accused of defrauding the state by swindling at least €35,000 from state authorities and the intended recipients who were homeless. Details as reported in the media suggested that the suspects forced individuals to register for housing state aid and report the suspect’s hotel as their current address.

A homeless man who spent five days at the hotel was later found to have been staying in a container while the state was paying his room and board

But in most cases, the homeless people were not staying at the hotel even though they were allegedly being forced to show up daily to prove otherwise. Reports also said that state officials would go to check on the housing aid recipients and often were told that they had just missed them. The receptionist never gave permission to officials to visit the rooms, according to reports, with allegations suggesting he was acting on the orders of the primary suspect.

Police say the suspects were pocketing the money while homeless victims were living elsewhere.

In one case, a homeless man who spent five days at the hotel was later found to have been staying in a container for three months while the state was paying his room and board for four months. Another person was said to have been staying at a detox clinic.

In another case, a woman and her two children were supposedly staying at the hotel with the state paying €165 daily for three months. It was later discovered, according to what was heard in court, that the two kids had been living with their father in Lebanon since July.

The suspects, who are currently in remanded custody, are facing multiple charges including conspiracy to commit a felony and illegal gains by way of fraud, all offences allegedly dating back between August 2018 and October 2019.

The state was said to have spent a total of €235,000 on the hotel in question to cover accommodation and food for homeless people.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Limassol  |  hotel  |  housing  |  homeless  |  scam  |  fraud  |  state welfare  |  NGO

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