Fraud investigators at the National Insurance Board (NIB) said Bahamians are now stooping to extreme lows, like faking deaths and pregnancies, to claim benefits.
Fraud Officer at NIB Emmanuel Butler said each year, the organisation pays out more than five per cent of its revenue to fraudulent claimants.
At a one-day seminar put on by the Institute of Internal Auditors at the British Colonial Hilton on Tuesday, Mr. Butler said during the 2010/2011 period NIB collected $189.4 million in contributions but paid out more than $182 million of that in benefits, some legitimate and some not.
“Persons can and persons have submitted false death certificates,” Mr. Butler said. “Someone can assume your contributions because you have sufficient contributions and you qualify for funeral benefit. They can come to NIB with a fraudulent death certificate bearing your name and claim.”
“We also have the maternity benefit fraud where people can substitute the identity. We’ve had a case where the daughter had a baby but she didn’t have sufficient contributions. But the mother had sufficient contributions and they had similar names so they slightly altered the form, so the mother claimed the maternity benefits.”
Mr. Butler said NIB officials are most often confronted by benefit fraud, fraudulent activity within the National Prescription Drug Plan (NPDP), contribution fraud, retirement and funeral benefits or injury benefits.
More recently the NIB fraud manager said the Unemployment Benefit Programme has been presented with a newer and bigger problem.
“We got information where a person was claiming from the unemployment scheme because they were injured on the job and let go,” he explained. “But the same person was seen working at another institution.”
“What’s really interesting is that, I did some surveillance on it where I even watched him from the bush, the person was walking and operating as normal like nothing was wrong with them. But a day or two later, that same individual walked into NIB with a cane. Since this unemployment scheme came on board in 2009 we paid out more than $37 million but we are challenged with people who are dishonest.”
He says there is a zero tolerance to fraud at NIB, adding that there are secret NIB agents who do investigative, private eye work to ensure that Bahamians are true to their word.
“There’s a need to be constantly vigilant to protect the National Insurance fund from abuse and any adverse conditions and mismanagement or deliberate fraud,” he added. “We have a Fraud Unit that will response to all allegations of fraud. We take no allegation lightly. Even [if it happens] in the Family Islands, we will have that case investigated thoroughly. We watch and we listen.”