Fraud worth more than €500m has been uncovered during an investigation of more than 900,000 social welfare payments made so far this year.

The Department of Social Protection says major savings have been achieved following a series of probes into payments including jobseeker’s benefit.

The department is seeking companies to help officials collect evidence including electronic financial transfers and prepare books of evidence outlining allegations made against individuals.

A total of 90 staff work in the department’s Special Investigations Unit which tackles fraud, while officials who process payments made to 1.4 million people every week are also trained to detect cases where fraud may be occurring.

A spokeswoman said that more than 900,000 payments were reviewed this year. In some cases, detailed checks were carried out which included checking financial transactions and consulting databases, including those held by the Revenue Commissioners.

Among the payments checked were those made to lone parents, where officials checked if a person in receipt of the money was living alone, and jobseeker’s allowance, where it was suspected the recipient may have taken up employment.

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