Kuwait: Ministry discovers approximately 40% of paid workers are ghosts

Fingerprint attendance system exposes workers (MENAFN)

Ministry sources said the application of fingerprint attendance system uncovered many employees who continued to receive their monthly salaries although they were absent from duty for several years, in addition to those who traveled abroad without permission and others held behind bars on legal issues.

The same sources affirmed that the authorities next month will start deducting salaries and hold absentees accountable for their actions, along with those who skip the fingerprint attendance system on a regular basis.

They noted the implementation of the system has uncovered the reality of all problems and complications the ministry endured throughout the years, and last week, about 3,000 of the estimated 7,500 employees were compelled to apply for leave, and “the mass leave application” was to avoid their inclusion in the fingerprint attendance system, as they fall in the category of ‘absentees and evaders’ of the fingerprint attendance system.

Nigeria vetting public sector pensioners with biometrics

Nigeria: Govt to Commence Nationwide Verification of Pensioners (All Africa)

…[T]he departments within its supervision include the civil service pension, police pension, pensioner support service, information technology and corporate support services as well as Treasury Funded Parastatals Pension.

She noted that verification exercise is expected to among other things, eliminate ghost pensioners, and halt the duplication of payments; Correct and eradicate anomalies such as over payments and under payments; pay pensions, gratuities, death benefits and other pensioner entitlements; update records of next of kins; and enrol new pensioners.

She said PTAD had also succeeded in establishing a robust complaints resolution mechanism which had improved services to pensioners.

Indian Supreme Court issues two-pronged UID decision

It’s been a while since we’ve dealt with the topic of India’s UID project here. This post picks up with current events. Newer readers can catch up by sifting back through the India label (also located in the post footer).

Nandan Nilekani: Supreme Court decision on Aadhaar vindicates our stand Nandan Nilekani (Economic Times)

Earlier this month, UIDAI approached the Apex Court, challenging a Bombay High Court order which had ordered the Agency to share biometric data to help solve an ongoing criminal investigation.

But it’s hard to see how this part of the Supreme Court decision isn’t a set-back.

SC: Withdraw Orders Making Aadhaar Must for any Service (Indian Express)

In a clear direction that a person’s information is private and cannot be misused, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to withdraw immediately the instruction, if any, issued by it for making Aadhaar card mandatory for citizens to avail of government services…

If UID is going to bring the power of biometrics to radically curtail the use of ghost recipients of direct transfers, making it mandatory could certainly help. Then again, there are other incentives that can be brought to bear. Most people would rather get a subsidy for propane directly deposited into a bank account rather than wait in line at a government store.

Also, putting a legal wall between the welfare system and criminal justice system should increase participation.

More Brazilian rubber-fingered ghosts

This time it’s the port of Paranaguá (Portuguese – Folha de S. Paulo)

A Federal Police (PF) operation Monday at the port of Paranaguá found “silicone fingers” that were used by employees to forge their attendance and receive credit for days not worked.

The 25 “fingers” were tailor-made, reproducing the fingers of 14 employees. They were stored in desks at the port, labeled with the name of each worker. Even a tray (ed. mold?) was found.

Each of the workers have worked there for at least eight years, according to PF.

Federal Police are investigating whether there are other people involved in the fraud.*

According to their site, the port at Paranaguá is the largest bulk port in latin America.

Paranaguá port                                                                                                                 ©Digital Globe & Microsoft Corporation

See Brazilian ghost doctors have rubber fingers for a more in-depth analysis of why forcing time-and-attendance fraud into the realm of rubber fingers is actually a good thing.

Long story short, every person who participated in creating a facsimile of their fingerprint has also had to create a lot of evidence that they participated in a conspiracy to defraud their employer.

The fraud kit in this most recent case can be seen at the Folha link.

*Translation from Google & Bing translation services with an assist by me. For now, robots still have a hard time with Brazilian Portuguese. I sympathize.

Mississippi: Fingerprint verification for subsidized services, finally

Mississippi implements finger scan system for daycare (The Commercial Appeal – Memphis, TN)

Under the system being implemented by the state Department of Human Services, parents must use a finger scanner to sign their children in and out. Proponents say it will save money and cause parents to visit preschools more often, but opponents argue the system is intrusive and creates technical headaches.

About 18,000 children will be affected by the move.

You have to read between the lines, but this is at least partly a ghost-busting mission within government-subsidized child care.

We first commented on this deployment in September of last year in Biometric deployment winners and losers. Follow the links for great examples of arguments made in opposition to tightening up ID management.

More here.

Not only does a fingerprint biometric raise the burden of proof that subsidized services are actually being provided, it makes it harder for unauthorized individuals to remove a child from a child care facility.

The workers are ghosts. The money is real.

It’s too bad ghost workers don’t earn ghost money.

Nigeria: Taming the Ghost Workers (Indepth Africa)

The ghost workers were detected through the biometric initiative undertaken by the Federal Government. Okonjo-Iweala declared that it was shocking that the Federal Government had survived it this far considering the level of graft on the public payroll. During the last exercise, FG uncovers 46,821 ghost workers!

Accordingly, the minister said the biometric exercise would be pursued vigorously in the coming days with a view to plugging loopholes and to save funds for the government to deploy in critical areas of need.

N118.9billion was saved.

XE Currency Converter

If that’s not some serious RoI, somebody has a lot of explaining to do.

Ghost roads and bridges leading to ghost schools attended by ghost students being taught by ghost teachers

No shortage of teachers in ARMM following elimination of ‘ghost pupils’ (Inquirer News)

The top education official in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao claims that unlike other regions plagued with shortages of teachers and classrooms no such problem was evident in the ARMM when school opened last Monday.

“There were no teacher and classroom shortages even after we had cleansed the payroll of ghost teachers,” ARMM Secretary of Education Jamar Kulayan told reporters here Wednesday. That was because, as the joke goes, they also eliminated a lot of “ghost students” and “ghost schools.”

The ARMM saved approximately US $19 million by cleaning out the ghosts.

Brazilian ghost doctors have rubber fingers

Note: all links in this post go to Portuguese language sources. Translations are a collaboration between Google and me.

My brother in São Paulo tipped me off to a rubber finger scandal in the Greater S.P. health service.

Doctor busted in SP for falsifying colleagues fingerprints with silicone (Floha de S. Paulo – Portuguese)

A doctor was arrested red-handed on Sunday, March 10 for using silicone fingers to fake the fingerprints use to mark the attendance of colleagues. She and the other doctors are employees of Samu Service (Emergency Medical Care) for Ferraz de Vasconcelos, in Greater São Paulo.

According to police, Thauane Nunes Ferreira, 28, registered the attendance of 11 doctors and 20 nurses. She told police she practiced the irregularity because she was coerced by her boss. 

Greater SPDoctors suspected of faking attendance are removed (Floha de S. Paulo – Portuguese)

Six Samu Service (Emergency Medical Care) doctors  in Ferraz de Vasconcelos, Greater São Paulo, paid R$ 4,800 [ed. $2,450 US] to the coordinator of the service in the city, Jorge Luiz Cury, in order to avoid working four 24-hours shifts per month for which they were paid, City Hall says. Police are investigating the case. The city pulled the servers allegedly involved in the fraud.

The day before yesterday [ed. see above], when the scheme was discovered, doctor Thauane Nunes Ferreira, 28, was arrested in the act of using mock fingers with silicone fingerprints to mark the attendance of six colleagues.

Where they have been adopted, biometrics have made ghostbusting easier. In this case, with time-and-attendance biometrics deployed someone had to create and use 31 rubber fingers (pictured at both links above). That draws attention. Without biometrics, scaling up the time-and-attendance fraud while decreasing the risk of detection would have been much easier. If this allegedly corrupt boss was willing to go up to at least 31 rubber fingers, how many paper employees would he have tried?

According to Wikipedia, Ferraz de Vasconcelos, where the fraud took place, is second-poorest of Greater São Paulo’s 39 municipalities. Congratulations to all involved for stopping this instance of the corrupt stealing resources meant to provide health care to people far less fortunate than the doctors and administrators involved.

UPDATE:
[Via] Drudge and the BBC are now on the story. If you didn’t want to wade through the Portuguese pieces linked above, you may be interested in these.

UPDATE II:
Upon closer examination of the the photos of the fake fingers used, another thought comes to mind. It certainly appears as though the fake fingers were created with the participation of their owners, making them evidence for the prosecution that they were complicit in the fraud.  As it is, the fake fingers used in the fraud come from a variety of live finger models. In the two examples pictured below, the one on the left appears to belong to a male and the one on the right appears to belong to a female. If the counterfeiter wasn’t working from live models, there would be no reason to add a fingernail to the back of the fake finger.

Image edited from original photo at Folha de S. Paulo

Had the doctors’ prints been somehow lifted via subterfuge and placed onto a silicone finger without their knowledge, we might expect all of the fake fingers to look very similar as the finger counterfeiter might have used his own finger as a model and simply placed the doctors’ prints on it. Alternatively, as with The Old Gummi Bear Trick, the item bearing the fingerprints needn’t look much like a finger at all.

Without biometrics (and with a more careful set of individuals), it might have been very difficult to prove that the doctors involved weren’t just victims of identity theft by a corrupt official. With the evidence on hand (!) it should be a simple matter to determine if the fake fingers match those of the ghost doctors.

A larger question is whether this story argues for or against the adoption of biometric systems for time-and-attendance. Nobody should claim that biometrics or any other security or ID management measure is perfect and infallible. Nothing is infallible. In this case, however, it appears that having a biometric rather than a paper-based time-and-attendance system increased the costs and complexity of committing the fraud. It made executing its daily function (clocking in) more difficult to do without being noticed. And (at least in this case) it forced those complicit in the scheme to create pretty significant evidence of their involvement.

As a manager or law enforcement official, which case would you rather prosecute: one with rubber fingers or one with only a paper trail?

Note: This post has undergone a few revisions for the purposes of updating the post, correcting typographical or grammatical errors and to add clarity.

Nomadic Norwegian ghost children!

ID scams may lead to DNA testing (Views and News from Norway)

Calls were being made this week for mandatory DNA-testing of children born at home in Norway, following several welfare fraud cases involving women who claimed benefits for children they never had. More than 70 children have been deleted from the state’s public register (Folkeregister) because they didn’t exist.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported this week that state welfare agency NAV had uncovered the scam carried out by Roma women in Norway. NAV revealed that the children had never been born and that their “parents” had received more than NOK 30 million (USD 5.5 m) in welfare benefits. Some of the children had existed on paper since 1995.

India: Biometric system discovers ghost residents and diners in student dwellings

Biometric system in Karnataka hostels busts scam (DNA India)

Thanks to the installation of biometric machines at hostels run by the social welfare department, a scam involving officials of the department in collusion with contractors has been exposed.

The department, which had installed biometric systems (thumb impression devices) at 280 hostels in various parts of the state, found that only 35% of the students were actually staying in these hostels.

However, officials were found creating false bills for the supply of food items in nexus with contractors, claiming that all the students were residing in the hostels. The state government, waking up to the situation, has now decided to install biometric systems in all 4,144 hostels in the State.

More at the link.

Ireland busting welfare ghosts with face recognition

Troubled Facebook software to tackle dole fraud (Irish Examiner)

In its latest effort to weed out welfare cheats, the Department of Social Protection plan to begin using facial-matching software from the beginning of the new year. The software will use photographic identification supplied with all new claims to automatically detect any other claims made by that person.

The technology will also have the ability to compare the supplied image with images stored by other Government bodies such as photos taken for driving licences and passports. The department believes this will help to stamp out dole cheats’ ability to use forged or stolen identities to make multiple claims.

I guess you can tell from the headline that the Examiner doesn’t approve. Nevertheless, facial recognition is a pretty good way to catch some welfare cheats.

If the photos are already available, running them through a facial recognition engine to search for duplicates doesn’t require any new, specialized hardware or add any steps for the people that do the one-on-one work with prospective beneficiaries.

The system Ireland is rolling out is similar ones in use in the United States (i.e. New York) for preventing identity fraud through the issuance of multiple drivers licenses under multiple names to the same person.

South Africa: Serious about ID Management

20m ghost ID books in SA (IT Web)

“Stats SA reckons there are 28 million people aged over 21. The IEC [Independent Electoral Commission] has 23 million registered voters. However, the credit bureaus have 38 million people registered, meaning they have 38 million identities. Bear in mind that they might be over the age of 18, eligible to vote, and old enough to feature in the Stats SA data of those over 16.

“So that doesn’t seem to tie up…

Technology and Management working together can help improve public payments system.

What I like about this article is the juxtaposition of the technological and managerial aspects of dealing with difficult problems.

Ghana loses millions in multiple salary payments (Modern Ghana)

In its response to the issue raised by the Auditor-General, the management of the CAGD said “the observation is noted and CAGD will investigate and take necessary action. In general, the ongoing biometric registration of active employees and pensioners will help address some of the payroll issues”.

The Auditor-General also called for an effective supervision of data entry officers to minimise the risk of payroll frauds and errors.

Biometrics give able managers a powerful new tool and an opportunity to realize significant returns on technology investment (ROI) but they can’t manage anything by themselves.

Biometric identity management is about people.

More on Ghost Voter Registrants in ARMM

This detailed and wide ranging analysis of the fraud surrounding the voter rolls in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) at least ends on an optimistic note.

Expelling banshees (Inquirer News)

ARRM is haunted by phantom students, wraith-teachers, “even ghost schools in ghost barangays,” says Jamar Kulayan, who was appointed January. A Tausug, Kulayan found it had become practice in the region for teachers to bloat student-enrollee numbers.

There are 2,000 teachers in excess of 20,000 officially hired. “Names of teachers already dead, retired, or abroad were still listed.” They and continue drawing their salaries. A “Task Force on Moratorium of Abolition and Creation of Schools” is now operational.

The new final Book of Voters is still ahead. But a consensus on making honest elections the centerpiece of ARMM reforms exists, notes Institute for Autonomy and Governance’s Fr. Eliseo Mercado, OMI… The new technology of biometrics will be used to ensure honest polls.

If this drill succeeds, it’d be a fitting legacy for P-Noy, new ARRM officials and NGOs working to purge lists. Exorcising banshees is a welcome change.

This detailed and wide ranging analysis of the scope the fraud surrounding the voter rolls at least ends on an optimistic note. See: At Least the Kids Can’t Vote Twice in ARMM, Philippines

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