For example, the Austrian authorities are currently conducting random checks at Vienna-Schwechat Airport to check for possible social benefit fraud. They are looking for people who, for example, receive unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, minimum security or pension compensation benefits, but have not reported their vacation abroad.
Such a focus check was carried out at Vienna-Schwechat Airport last week. The officials took a closer look at certain flights on which experience has shown that there could be a particularly large number of "hits". The passengers were randomly checked. For example, inquiries were made to the social security system and, if necessary, the labor market service, the social welfare office or the health insurance provider were contacted and asked whether the stay abroad had been registered.
The background is that people who, for example, receive unemployment benefit, emergency assistance, minimum security, sickness benefit and/or compensatory benefits for pensions, must register holidays - regardless of whether they are in Germany or abroad. It is not forbidden to take a vacation when receiving these benefits, but it is the case, for example, with unemployment benefit and emergency assistance that you are not entitled to benefits for the period in which you are outside of Austria. In any case, the consent of the respective provider is necessary for sickness benefit and this depends on the individual case, because with certain illnesses a convalescent stay can even be beneficial. Since there can be financial disadvantages when drawing social benefits when leaving the country, some recipients simply do not report this - contrary to the legal provisions to which attention is drawn in the notifications and information sheets. The Austrian authorities are looking for exactly these people.
There are also two other groups of people that are being targeted: Austrians, who only live in Austria on paper, but in fact are abroad and only appear for their personal appointments with the authorities. The second group are EU citizens who maintain a sham residence in Austria and, depending on their previous employment in Austria, collect payments from the AMS and/or social welfare office. The latter phenomenon is quite a significant problem, because in some countries there are even real "agencies" to turn to. They then also organize the journey to and from Austria in order to appear for personal appointments. The "package" usually also includes fictitious residences and the processing of any mail. It goes without saying that the majority of the social benefits then do not end up with the actual recipients, but in the pockets of the “agencies”.
The focus action that was carried out at Vienna-Schwechat Airport last week resulted in 42 suspected cases. According to the State Criminal Police Office of Lower Austria, the controls would have revealed that these people had not registered their stay abroad with the respective institution. The public prosecutor's office, to which the 42 people were reported, is responsible for further investigations.
The presumption of innocence applies to them, because it may be possible that one or the other person later found out that the stay abroad was registered or approved by the medical service of the health insurance company, but the information was not given during the check - for whatever reason has existed. The prosecution will decide whether or not to pursue charges of benefit fraud.