Authorities in Germany and Romania have dismantled a criminal network suspected of defrauding the German state of up to EUR 2 million in child benefits. During an action day supported by Eurojust, one suspect was arrested and 44 places were searched in both countries.
Between 2014 and 2017, the organised crime group (OGC) allegedly recruited vulnerable families in unstable financial situations in Romania and brought them to Germany through deception or coercion. When the families arrived in Germany, the suspects provided them with accommodation, opened bank accounts, and applied for child benefit and other social benefits.
As soon as the benefits were paid, the suspects sent the families back to Romania and collected the benefits for themselves. Since a place of residence or habitual residence in Germany is a prerequisite for receiving child benefit, the withdrawal was unjustified.
According to the status of the investigation in Germany, the damage caused is up to EUR 2 million.
The case was opened at Eurojust at the request of the German authorities. Four coordination meetings were hosted by Eurojust to facilitate judicial cooperation and provide support for the coordinated investigative efforts.
During a joint action day on 28 June, one suspect was arrested in Romania, based on a European Arrest Warrant issued by Germany. A total of 44 house searches were carried out, including 29 in Germany and 15 in Romania. A significant number of documents, including identity documents, confirming the criminal activity of the OCG were seized.
In Romania, 92 people were summoned for interview. At the Romanian Police headquarters, 45 people were interrogated as suspects, including 30 in Vaslui County, 8 in Bacău County, 4 in Galați County and 1 in Vrancea, Iași and Neamț counties. More people are expected to be interrogated in the near future.
The operation on the Romanian territory was carried out with the participation of 293 policemen, 23 from DIC County and 270 from IPJ Vaslui County, including criminologists and members of the special action teams of the Romanian Police and other county police inspectorates. In Vaslui County, two prosecutors from Germany, accompanied by the liaison officer from the Bundeskriminalamt stationed in Bucharest and the Romanian prosecutor from the Directorate for Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) – Central Structure, also participated in the operation.
The following authorities took part in the operations:
Germany: Public Prosecutor’s Office in Bochum; Dortmund Police Headquarters
Romania: Directorate for Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT)