Rehovot: 2 detained as police uncover unemployment fraud

Suspects were allegedly working without reporting their income to authorities.

police car 88 (photo credit: )
police car 88
(photo credit: )
Investigators from the National Economic Crimes Unit detained two employees of the Rehovot Unemployment Office early Tuesday morning on suspicion that they helped defraud the office by stamping applicants who were not present. A recent police investigation raised suspicions that the two, both in their 50s, had stamped "unemployed" peoples' documents as "unfit to work," thereby entitling them to benefits without requiring them to find employment. The people in question were allegedly working without reporting their income to the authorities, simultaneously drawing unemployment benefits from the National Insurance Institute. Although they were required to report once a week to the Unemployment Office to re-approve their unemployed status, police believe the clerks okayed the stamps without the people coming in. Instead, police suspect, a fixer, or "macher," intervened in the process and would take the forms to be stamped by the clerks. The macher would also allegedly stamp a booklet for his own wife, who was listed as "searching for employment." The investigation began approximately a year ago based on intelligence that police received. Police said that during the undercover probe, they carried out "a number of different checks" and gathered evidence that supported and even increased the suspicions against those involved. On Tuesday morning, the undercover part of the investigation ended with the detention of five suspects: the two clerks, the fixer and his wife, and one of the people who allegedly filed themselves as unemployed. The suspects will be questioned by investigators in the coming days, and police are likely to request that some of the suspects be formally arrested and remanded in order prevent evidence tampering. The suspects could face charges including receipt of bribes, fraud and breach of trust, as well as forging financial statements.