Social fraud is exploding. According to the report of the Court of Auditors published on September 8, out of 450 billion euros in benefits paid in 2019, the fraud detected would have reached one billion euros. A doubling compared to 2017. But the reality would be much higher: from 10 to 40 billion euros according to studies. This week, it will be the turn of the Commission of Inquiry established by the National Assembly to make 55 recommendations to fight more effectively against this scourge. Vincent Mazauric, Director General of the National Family Allowances Fund (Cnaf), unveils his future anti-fraud weapons.
What did the Court of Auditors report inspire you?
VINCENT MAZAURIC. The Cnaf does not have to be ashamed of this report. Fraud exists and it is normal to assess it. For our fund, the fraud observed in 2019 amounted to 324 million euros for an estimate of 2.3 billion euros. But we must put it into perspective: out of 13 million beneficiaries, 49,000 fraudsters have been sanctioned. And the 324 million detected are compared to the 85 billion euros in benefits paid. Finally, the Court stresses that in ten years, we have increased our efficiency tenfold.
Next to fraud, there are also a lot of real mistakes …
Indus (Editor’s note: benefits that should not have been paid) reached 900 million euros in 2019. Only a third is fraud, the rest are payment or non-payment errors. Each year, we perform 30 million checks, in particular by cross-referencing files. They make it possible to claim 300 million euros of unduly received benefits, and to pay at the same time 300 million euros, not paid initially but to which the beneficiaries are entitled.
What are the obstacles to an effective fight against fraud?
This is a known problem. In tax law, the concept of couple living in a household is defined by marriage and the PACS. In social law, if two people cohabit, without being married or in civil partnership, if a person contributes in one way or another to the charges, by paying the rent, the crèche, the electricity … we consider that it does not there is no need to pay a benefit due to isolation. It is therefore more complicated for us to verify that a person is isolated. This is why the law allows us to carry out on-site inspections, verify bank accounts, cross-check with other public services, etc.
And the denunciation?
Trash, directly, as long as it is anonymous. No control is launched without our having also alerts. But the denunciation exists, yes.
How do you target fraudsters then?
We have 700 controllers who are constantly trained. And since 2012, we have been using data mining: we use the data. Three quarters of controls today are initiated this way. In 2014, fraud or errors were detected in 66% of these checks, today it is 99%. To prevent errors, whether voluntary or not, each year we send 300,000 reminders by SMS, emails and telephone to alert recipients of income declaration deadlines, declaration of a probable departure of a child from the household … Above all, we are targeting 72,000 beneficiaries known to have been on the verge of fraud. It reminds them that we are vigilant… This device has made it possible to divide by five the rate of “recidivism”.
The Court of Auditors asks you to better control upstream. What are you planning to do?
Thanks to the withholding tax, in 2019 the “DRM” was created, a pooled resource system, which compiles all the information on household income. Next year, we will look for the information in this file ourselves in order to pre-fill the forms, rather than requesting the documents from the beneficiaries. We will start in January 2021 with the new method of calculating APL on the basis of income for the last 12 months, and more for year N-2. Then, we will expand to RSA and the activity bonus. We will thus dry up a major source of errors and fraud.
Other “weapons” in preparation?
I want to create teams of around thirty hyper-specialized and mobile controllers in the four corners of France to fight against organized fraud in several departments, and against sleep merchants. We will create two teams in 2021, we will evaluate the results and if it works, we will create more.