In the German town of Offenbach, the number of applications for social welfare handed in by Bulgarian expats is constantly on the rise, and recently hit 31 per cent. At the same time, the percentage of welfare recipients of other nationalities is either stable of decreasing, and substantially lower.
Since the municipality developed suspicions, they sent out inspectors, who were supposed to look for Bulgarian welfare recipients. The daily “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” joined them. They found families living in appalling conditions, with children sleeping on insect-infested mattresses. But they also ran into fraud cases, as they suspected.
The way the inspectors treated Bulgarians who worked and received social welfare at the same time, which is forbidden, seemed to be gentle, in cases documented in the article. One of the issues is the language. Some Bulgarians in Germany just do not know about the laws.
At the same time, the city of Offenburg believes, some welfare recipients are being exploited by their employers. In the article, officials are talking about “structures usually found in Mafia circles”, in which German, Turkish and Bulgarian business owners cooperate. The victims are usually poor, Turkish-speaking Bulgarians, who work for cleaning or construction companies.
The city officials talk to the victims of those exploitation schemes, advising them to change their jobs and apartments, and to correct all violations. The rooms or apartments the victims are renting, often turn out to be far more expensive than they should be, due to the Mafia traps they ran into.
Those responsible for the exploitation and welfare fraud will be indicted, when caught.
The article by the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” daily.