A woman who pretended to be blind for 15 years to claim disability benefits from the Italian government has been unmasked after she was observed scrolling through her phone.
The 48-year-old fraudster claimed around 208,000 euros (Rs 1.8 crore) under the pretence of being completely blind. The money was given to her as disability benefits by the National Institute for Social Security over the course of 15 years, The Mirror reported.
However, she was caught when the Carabinieri, one of Italy’s main law enforcement agencies, saw her using her touchscreen smartphone and signing documents without difficulty. The Carabinieri claims that these and other behaviours displayed by the woman would have been impossible had she been completely blind.
The unnamed woman has been charged with aggravated and continued fraud against the state. Two doctors who certified her disability several times are also being investigated.
“Falsely blind for 15 years, she received the disability pension reserved for those with 'absolute blindness': with this accusation, the Carabinieri of the Gioia Tauro Company have reported a 48-year-old woman from the area, a retired person, for aggravated and continuous fraud against the State while remaining at liberty,” the Carabinieri said in a statement.
“The military investigations, which also involved observations and surveillance, found that the woman was extremely adept and capable, making simple gestures such as 'scrolling' on the mobile phone touchscreen, as well as showing absolute autonomy in signing documents or in daily routines.
“The two doctors who, on different occasions, certified the woman's disability, are also under investigation and will have to answer for aggravated and continuous fraud against the State, as well as for material falsehood committed by public officials in a public act, in collusion.”