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Disability pension scam in Naples

Two streets home to 55% of city's blind and mentally ill

19 January, 17:00
Disability pension scam in Naples (ANSA) - Naples, January 19 - A massive disability pension scam has been uncovered in Naples involving hundreds of cases of people claiming to be blind or mentally ill, 55% of whom apparently live on the same two city streets.

The scandal broke last month when 53 people living in the city's historic center were arrested for falsely claiming disability pensions for blindness.

The pensions were granted based on falsified medical records and given to people who continued to drive, read and carry on a normal life. Police later arrested a 36-year-old city district councillor, Salvatore Alaio, on charges of being the mastermind behind the fraud.

Many of those illegally drawing the disability pensions were his friends or family.

Further examination of public health records by investigators led to the discovery of up to 400 cases of disability pensions for mental illness in one central neighborhood alone, ten times the number of other city districts.

Looking at the results of the investigation, Francesco Emilio Borrelli, a regional official of the Green party, found that in his central San Ferdinando district "some 8% of the population is either blind or crazy. And this percentage rises to 20% in the neighborhood on the hill above Santa Lucia and to 55% on just two streets alone".

"To think that there is a woman, N.C., who really has a disability and was unable to get a pension because she refused to take part in the illegal 'system'," he added.

"It is people like her who were most damaged, who suffered the most from this shameful fraud," Borrelli said.

Investigators have calculated that the cases involving the fake blind have cost the state some one million euros over a three-year period.

Officials responsible for authorising disability pensions blame the bureaucracy for creating this situation, given that the paper work has to be processed by three separate offices: the local ASL national health branch, the city and the national pension office INPS.

In the regions, pension requests are processed only by ASL and INPS.

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