The Economic Crime Authority is now raising a red flag about an ominous trend in the gang criminal scene. According to the authority, criminal groups have begun to operate healthcare centers and vaccination clinics. Quick actions are sought to halt this negative development.
– It’s crucial that these individuals are not allowed into healthcare, states Sara Persson, a crime prevention specialist at the Economic Crime Authority, to the tax-funded Sveriges Radio Ekot.
Historically, drug and narcotics trade has been the main source of income for gangs. However, a growing portion of their “income” now comes from welfare fraud and scams. The Swedish health and medical care sector has attracted the interest of gangs.
– They are multi-criminals. They engage in various types of criminal activities, including drug offenses, fraud against individuals and companies, and economic crimes within businesses. Companies are becoming an increasingly important tool for individuals in organized crime, says Sara Persson in the interview with Ekot.
The general absence of national registers, hence the lack of opportunities to recognize patterns extending beyond specific systems, makes it difficult to detect criminal activity.
Healthcare: A new cash cow
A collective authority report from this year, involving the Police, Tax Agency, Security Police, and the Employment Service, describes a particularly serious development. It notes that economic crime is becoming increasingly widespread among organized criminals, with healthcare being the latest lucrative target.
“Now, not only the state but also municipalities and regions’ welfare payments, such as to healthcare centers, residential care homes, protected residences, and family homes, are being attacked. There’s a risk when no permit is required to establish various types of operations, and several challenges in the fight against disreputable actors committing welfare fraud against regions have been identified”, the report reads.
Region Stockholm and Västra Götaland Region are two of the regions that have identified links to organized crime, for example in the form of healthcare providers. However, problems likely exist in other parts of the country as well.
– We are seeing early signs of infiltration into healthcare. They are operating healthcare centers, vaccination clinics. It’s crucial that these individuals are not allowed into healthcare, comments Sara Persson.
She refers to legal cases against active gang criminals who have not only been prosecuted for drug trafficking but also for tax offenses within companies. They have engaged in “consultant-supported operations”, with money paid out by municipalities to care for “unaccompanied children”.
Earlier in the week, Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer and Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson, both of the Moderate Party, announced that the government is “intensifying efforts to stop the flow of money to gangs”.
A subsidy investigation from September this year found that at least 14.6 billion SEK is paid out incorrectly in subsidies every year. Organized crime is said to be responsible for a significant portion of this.