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23 September, 2019
 
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Two arrested in food stamp scam in Larnaca

Civil servant and another suspect accused of stealing food stamps from asylum seekers

Newsroom

A civil servant and another person were remanded in custody on Thursday, in connection with a suspected scam over food stamps and rent vouchers destined for foreign low-income beneficiaries.

According to police, a Larnaca district judge on Thursday morning ordered two male suspects, a Greek Cypriot aged 54 and a foreign national aged 42, in remanded custody for six days on suspicion of stealing food stamps and rent vouchers issued by social services.

According to media sources, the accounting office of the Social Services department sent out a number of envelopes addressed to named individuals, including foreign beneficiaries and asylum seekers. But when eight of those individuals went to collect their state assistance, their envelopes were nowhere to be found.

It later turned out that while two envelopes were missing after confirmation checks were carried out by officials, those other eight envelopes had previously been marked as received by the intended recipients. Since the recipients never collected them, new checks were carried out where 18 more envelopes were discovered gone missing.

But when eight of those individuals went to collect their state assistance, their envelopes were nowhere to be found

Following checks and an internal investigation, an administrator recalled that the 54-year-old suspect had presented eight different suspicious rental contracts corresponding to only one apartment in Dromolaxia, Larnaca district, which belonged to a Greek Cypriot man. He was also alleged to have stolen envelopes, while at one time he was seen grabbing a few but putting them back as soon as he was called out.

The home owner says he was not aware of the scam, saying his apartment only had two rooms. The 54-year-old suspect had told the administrator previously that the apartment was split into smaller unites to help asylum seekers save money, something which was flatly denied by the home owner who said there are only two rooms.

The two suspects are now being investigated for fraud, illegal gains, forgery, and conspiracy to commit a felony, with all offences allegedly committed between January and June 10 of this year in Larnaca.

It is alleged that the local suspects were taking advantage of foreign asylum seekers by drafting unlawful rental agreements and stealing their food stamps that were issued by the state in accordance with their legal status.

Both have denied any wrongdoing or involvement in the case.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  asylum  |  food stamps  |  police  |  theft  |  fraud  |  forgery  |  rent  |  foreign  |  civil servant  |  Larnaca

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