FOCUS online: Mr. Huth, a Nigerian German from Dortmund, recently made headlines because he appeared as the father of 24 children by different women in his home country and collects approximately 1.5 million euros a year from social coffers and relatives. Why isn't this a scam?

Oliver Huth: This particular case must be examined differently. According to the law, the recognition of paternity normally serves to build an emotional bond with the child. The well-being of the family and the development of a protected structure are especially protected by the Basic Law.

This cannot work with 24 descendants. The suspicion here is that this man just wants to collect money from the scam. But if the prosecutor says that there is no fraud in this case, the legislator should explain to citizens why these supposed parents continue to receive state benefits. You can't sell that to people in Germany.

Apparently there are other cases that follow the same pattern. Does this mean that the legislator is promoting legal fraud?

I believe that the legislator has left a legal loophole here that encourages the misuse of said services. Politicians have to create new regulation. It cannot be that we subsidize a person who lives mainly in Africa and drives expensive cars with Dortmund license plates.

Isn't enough being done to prevent social fraud?

Too little. Federal and state governments do not adequately position the municipalities and cities that are often responsible. Added to this is social secrecy, which too often prevents the exchange of data between prosecutors and local authorities. The legislator justifies this reservation by saying that beneficiaries of social benefits should not be stigmatized. The BDK sees it differently.

Every euro paid incorrectly reduces the already tight budgets of federal, state and local governments. That's why everyone who receives public sector subsidies must also put their cards on the table about why they need government support. Nothing more can be sold to the hard-working citizen who diligently pays taxes. Consequently, more effective control mechanisms are needed. It is not about a state of control, but about distributing citizens' money in such a way that state institutions are not exposed to suspicions of embezzlement of tax funds.

What exactly has to happen?

First of all, municipalities must also prepare much better in terms of personnel for the fight against social fraud. It cannot be that large criminal families live in villages, establish so-called communities of need there, finance the houses partly with social benefits and at the same time engage in theft. The authorities do not even realize that these people drive heavy cars and at the same time receive support from the state treasury. Who else do you want to explain something like that to?

Where are the errors?

In addition to social secrecy, it is due to blatant control gaps. Social, immigration and youth welfare offices simply do not have the staff to carry out home visits to those receiving citizenship benefits or child benefits. We, as police, cannot simply ask the responsible municipal authorities whether a suspect receives social benefits. We typically search defendants' accounts and obtain information about whether welfare fraud has occurred. Of course, any corresponding suspicions will also be reported to the responsible local authorities.

But if we could simply ask the authorities about a suspicious person who just drove past us in a Ferrari, we would take a big step forward. In order to act against social fraud in cases of minor crimes, legislative power is needed. Because current norms only help social criminals.

This is the old story of not having to act against social abuse. There are no two opinions that the welfare state should help individuals and families in need. But only if the claim is justified. At the same time, however, the State should have the opportunity to effectively examine the claims. You must be able to verify paternity, prepare facts, and clarify immigration law issues that are associated with potential marriages of convenience to give an advantage to immigrants without a chance to obtain asylum status. It's finally time to hit the table and take off your rose-colored social glasses.

Why doesn't this happen?

Political courage would be needed instead of getting lost in stubborn partisan programs combined with a social-romantic ideology. We have been discussing topics like immigration law and starting a family for years. I still remember that in North Rhine-Westphalia, during the red-green government of the then SPD Prime Minister, Hannelore Kraft, and her Justice Minister, Thomas Kutschaty, almost ten years ago the immigration authorities had already complained to the legal committee of the regional parliament that men from the Balkans were trying to obtain their right of residence, in which they assumed false paternity. It was about fleecing the German taxpayer. Nothing has happened since then.

It's not just that, who is particularly active in the field?

Often organized crime. Residents from Turkey or Romania work in Duisburg and other Ruhr cities, often bringing Roma families. These people come from poor backgrounds, stay in junk properties and have to pay horrendous rents. Residents organize the path to social systems for newcomers. For example, child benefit is claimed for children who do not even live in Germany. Before the scam is noticed, the money is already gone. Most of the state's money ends up in the pockets of residents and their sponsors, who can access the accounts of child benefit recipients.

Are there other scams?

Of course, for example the scam with needy communities. Fraudsters pretend to live in the same property with multiple family members. Huge amounts of tax money flow to finance the corresponding living space. In fact, many members of these needy communities do not live in the specified place of residence. Thus, for example, the Kurdish-Lebanese clan Al-Zein financed its villa in Leverkusen with the help of Hartz IV benefits (now citizens' money, editor's note).

What do these clans really live on?

Mainly from his criminal businesses. Some clan members declare income as clean money in order to obtain real estate loans from banks. In fact, the funds come from illegal activities. Social security fraud is just useful extra income.

You are an organized crime (OC) expert at the State Criminal Police Office. Does the Italian mafia also take advantage of the local welfare state?

One thing is clear: social security fraud is common in all ethnic groups, whether German or foreign. Abuse is quite common in all OC groups. This also applies to Italian citizens close to the mafia. We know from intercepted telephone calls that appropriate maneuvers to facilitate social security funds were discussed. This is also one of the reasons why there are so many mafia places in North Rhine-Westphalia. Because it seems especially easy to commit fraud here.

It is difficult for authorities to provide valid data on welfare fraud. Are the judiciary, police and local administration not taking the issue seriously?

Not particularly. The dark field appears extremely high. Only through the MISSIMO project of the criminal police of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia were we able to get an idea of ​​the extent of the abuse of child benefits in the cities of the Rhine and Ruhr. The LKA offers municipalities a catalog of measures and controls to know whether families legally receive child benefit from the family fund or not. Unfortunately, many municipalities have not yet accepted the offer.

Why not?

Many cities and municipalities still do not understand that they are not only donors, but also part of the current security architecture. This requires properly trained personnel; Also, police desks should be together. The best example of how this can work is demonstrated by the Ruhr Security Conference, which, among other things, addresses this problem in a concerted way in collaboration with prosecutors. But something like that costs money. That is why many cities and communities leave everything as is and prefer to turn a blind eye to suspected cases. In cases like that of the Al-Zein clan in Leverkusen, the city has to ask itself how years of benefit abuse could have occurred. So far I haven't read anything that city leaders have taken new countermeasures to prevent fraud.