The Social Insurance Agency became suspicious of the woman when her children were not present at the start of the 2014 school year. The subsequent investigation shows that both she and her children have been residing in their home country of Algeria for years, after their father was deported in 2003.
Despite her absence, the woman continued picking up a fairly generous Swedish benefits cocktail consisting of, among other, parental benefits, child benefits, maintenance support and housing support, Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan reported.
The flow of benefits to the woman stopped in early 2015, when she was deregistered as a Swedish resident by the Swedish Tax Agency.
Sweden, which in the decades after World War II evolved into an egalitarian welfare state, has seen a dramatic rise in benefit fraud and economic crime. During the recent ten year period, reported fraud crime has more than tripled. In 2015, approximately 185,000 fraud offences were reported, as well as 10,300 welfare benefit offences, Sweden's Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) reported. According to Brå, and more than half of these cases concerned the "fleecing" of the Social Insurance Agency, which saw 2,300 more reported cases last year than in 2014.
The number of reported crimes against the Swedish Social Insurance Agency climbed by 71 percent last year, compared to the year before, Swedish Radio reported earlier this year.
Benefit fraud costs the Swedish state an estimated 1 billion SEK per year ($120 million). The most frequent form of cheating pertains to child care benefits. Other common forms of cheating include child allowances, sickness benefits, attendance allowances for people with disabilities to be able to hire a personal assistant, and maintenance support for low-income parents in certain situations.