Ukrainian war refugees receiving citizen benefits even though they are not actually entitled to them: FOCUS online recently reported in detail on these cases.

Context: Authorities in Baden-Württemberg noted that some suspected Ukrainian war refugees had second citizenship, such as Hungarian or Romanian, but hid it when they entered the country.

The suspicion: those affected wanted to receive German social benefits, but in reality they were not entitled to it.

Anyone who identifies exclusively as Ukrainian in Germany has a special status and receives citizenship benefits from the beginning of their stay. The privilege does not apply to EU foreigners who only have Ukrainian citizenship. The same goes for Hungarians and Romanians.

“Miraculously” new passports

Apparently the issue has reached politics. In response to a question from FOCUS online, a spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of the Interior explained that the federal states are responsible for accepting and hosting refugees.

However, representatives of the federal states pointed out possible cases of abuse to the ministry. Therefore, “an examination of the matter was initiated in cooperation with Ukrainian and Hungarian partners.”

When asked how many cases had already been investigated, he said: “As part of the procedure to clarify doubts about the nationality of applicants for temporary protection […] As of January 8, 2024, the BAMF has transmitted a total of 3,111 cases to Hungarian authorities and 3,374 cases to Ukrainian authorities for review with a Ukrainian-Hungarian connection.”

“Fake” Ukrainians are a problem, not only in Baden-Württemberg. In the past there have also been reports of Roma apparently arriving in Bavaria in greater numbers than Ukrainian war refugees.

Some of them probably also had, in addition to Ukrainian citizenship, Hungarian citizenship, as emerged from various media reports. Here, too, the question of the right to citizen benefits is in the foreground: for the large Roma families concerned, this means in individual cases several thousand euros in social benefits per month.

The Munich metropolitan area will be particularly affected

In September, the Fürstenfeldbruck district office in Bavaria estimated the number of suspected Ukrainian Gypsies housed in refugee accommodation at around 100. According to local politicians, about 80 of them had “miraculously” obtained new Ukrainian passports. However, many of the Roma spoke Hungarian.

It is not only in Fürstenfeldbruck that the authorities suspect that some real or perceived Ukrainian refugees are hiding the possession of an additional Hungarian passport. This was reported by the Munich newspaper Abendzeitung, which carried out consultations in numerous districts and cities in Bavaria.

A spokeswoman for the Rosenheim district office said: Above all, Ukrainian refugees of Roma origin arriving since the beginning of 2023 “mostly have newly issued passports.”

Some of these people would speak Hungarian. “Many cannot assert their right to protection in the subsequent administrative procedure because they cannot prove that they lived in Ukraine before the outbreak of war,” the spokesperson said.

The case of a family caused outrage

Social fraud by Ukrainians was already a problem in the east of the republic. The Ilm district of Thuringia reported a particularly audacious scam last year: of some 2,400 Ukrainian refugees, 52 were already registered in other EU countries. Some of them are said to have received social benefits twice as a result. This is clear from an MDR report.

The case of a Ukrainian family in Schleswig-Holstein also caused outrage. Over one year she is said to have received around 40,000 euros in social benefits from Germany, despite having temporarily returned to western Ukraine.

The question remains of how to stop this social fraud.

FOCUS online asked the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS) what controls are carried out to prevent or at least detect fraud.

Federal Ministry of Labor refers to immigration authorities

In a written response he says: “The performance requirements of the SGB II are met in the employment offices […] For foreign applicants, the process also includes verification of “information on the existence of a residence permit for temporary protection.” And he adds: “It is the responsibility of the immigration authorities to determine where the person entitled to benefits comes from, whether he or she has flight characteristics and whether a residence permit can be issued, based on the identification service.”

If employment offices suspect “that the person applying also has an EU nationality, for example because he only speaks an EU language but not Ukrainian, employment offices must inform the immigration authorities of this.” “.

The ministry statement also says: “Only when immigration authorities determine that the original residence permit was incorrectly issued due to EU citizenship can benefits be suspended or reclaimed.”

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