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Successive French governments have made a priority of the issue of social benefits fraud, which is recurrently a popular subject for politicians of all sides during election campaigns, and also for some sections of the media. But a report this month by France’s official ombudsman for the protection of citizens’ rights reveals that while the true cost of benefits fraud is often grossly overestimated, benefits agencies are engaged in such a zealous crackdown that many innocent people, most often the poorest in society, have been cheated of their rightful allowances, and ordered to make backpayments on false pretences. Mediapart political commentator Hubert Huertas details the findings of the report.
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