More than 870,000 people who are not registered in Sweden have been given a coordination number to live and work there. Now, the border police and the Swedish Tax Agency have sounded the alarm over the fact that around 45 percent of them have not confirmed their identity.
A coordination number lets people live and work in Sweden without being registered. At present, there are no legal requirements from either the Swedish Tax Agency, the Migration Agency or the police that one must prove their identity in order to be assigned a number. The police admitted that the situation is spiralling out of control.
“We have a parallel society that is only growing. We have completely lost control of who is here. These are people who have no rights, but it can also be about people whose intentions being here are completely unknown,” Marit Murphy Handelsberg, civilian border police investigator, told Dagens Nyheter.
After having examined 4,000 coordination numbers, the Swedish Tax Agency discovered that 45 percent had no verified identity. 75 percent of those hailing from countries outside the EU also lacked work and residence permits. In 10 percent of the cases, there were suspicions that people could be exploited as illegal labour. No intention of paying taxes was discovered either.
In November, the daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet cried foul over foreign nationals' abuse of the temporary coordination numbers, issued by the Swedish Tax Agency, for committing crimes or illegally gaining access to Swedish welfare. The police refers to these people as “ghosts”, and their numbers are increasing.
“We stand no chance”, Robert Lindström of the Border police said, commenting on the widespread abuse and its extent.
Since the system was introduced about 20 years ago, hundreds of thousands of coordination numbers have been issued, of which about 150,000 have since been converted into permanent social security numbers, which all Swedish residents have. According to the Police and the Swedish Tax Agency, the problem is so extensive that it has created a shadow society where foreign citizens can work, pay taxes and have access to all the benefits of society, albeit illegally.
The problem is exacerbated by widespread personal data fraud. According to a 2017 report from TV4, over 50 percent of those who seek asylum in Sweden register different personal data with different authorities, which in some cases is subsequently used for criminal activities.
According to the Swedish Tax Agency, between 45,000 and 55,000 coordination numbers have been distributed annually in recent years.
As the newspaper Göteborgs-Posten pointed out, this makes it next to impossible to tally Sweden's exact population. The official figure of 10.3 million is based on population registries. Those 873,000 who have been assigned a temporary coordination number are not included in the statistics, and, what's worse, there is no exact data on how many of them are real people, let alone still living in Sweden.