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Benefit Crime campaign finds $17 million

Media release

WINZ's highly successful benefit crime campaign identified 1378 cases of fraud and found $17 million of taxpayer's money which will be paid back, said the Hon Roger Sowry, Minster of Social Services, Work and Income.

"The campaign was also particularly successful in raising awareness of benefit crime, with research showing that 94% of people are now aware that benefit fraud is a crime," he said.

The survey also showed that 92% of New Zealanders felt benefit fraudsters should be punished, and 77% felt benefit crime was a serious problem.

"The welfare system is there to provide a helping hand to families and individuals who really need it - and it's important we make sure people's taxes are being spent carefully."

"The campaign - which cost $1.5 million - returned $11.32 for each dollar spent, but this campaign was about driving home to people the fact that benefit crime costs taxpayers perhaps many hundreds of millions of dollars a year."

FACTS:

Amount paid out in benefits is approx $40 million each working day.

Debt currently owed to WINZ including overpayments, advances and benefit crime: $762 million

Fraud detection statistics by year-

96/97 $63.4 million

97/98 $101.9 million

98/99 (11 mths only) $111 million

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