25 detained in corona fraud probe, shot fired during house search

Twenty-five people were detained and led away for questioning this morning as part of an investigation into serious fraud involving corona unemployment benefit payments.  Dozens of premises were raided.  One suspect was injured when police fired shots.

The suspects are believed to have applied for and received unemployment benefit impersonating hundreds of other people.  Some suspects received unwarranted payments in their own name.

During the first lockdown the government relaxed the rules on temporary unemployment benefit.  900,000 people are believed to have applied for the benefit during this period.

Social and employment inspectors discovered that at some companies people applied for benefit retrospectively using false identity information.  Employees, who were not working for companies, were registered purely in order to apply for benefit.

Federal prosecutor Eric van der Sypt believes this fraud totals some 2 million euros, but could rise further during the investigation.

Thirty premises were raided.  One individual, who reached for a gun, was shot.  He isn’t seriously injured.  During the raids three guns and several luxury cars were seized.

Suspects are being brought before an examining magistrate, who will decide whether they are named as suspects and will remain in custody. 

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