The Guardia di Finanza has found fraud for 17 million in the use of the culture bonus 18 apps. Federculture's appeal not to shelve it. Facts, numbers and controversies
About 17 million euros. This is the turnover of the fraud discovered by the Guardia di Finanza of which the culture bonus was the victim. The Agi agency reports a document from the Gdf, edited by the Special Public Spending and Community Fraud Repression Unit, which analyzes the results of the investigations carried out on 18 apps from 2018 to 2020.
THE TURNOVER OF SCAMS: FRAUDULENT PAYMENTS IN 3.85% OF CASES
The numbers are not flattering at all. Between 2018 and 2020 culture bonuses were spent for a total of 354,181,519 million euros . The scams involved 3.85% of the expenditure, for an economic value of 13,653,354 euros . The GdF identified suspicious transactions for a further 3,557,874 euros were reported to the Ministry of Culture The checks involved a total of 639 people, and irregularities emerged in 501 cases. There are 299 people reported to the judiciary.
HOW SCAMS WORK
Fraudsters are very imaginative and there are many ways to fraudulently steal funds from the state. They range from buying and selling on the internet through Instagram, Facebook, Telegram , to converting the culture bonus into vouchers to be spent in a period of time following the expiry of the validity period, or to the purchase of goods (such as video game consoles) not permitted by law.
THE ANOMALIES INVESTIGATED BY THE FINANCIAL GUARD ON BONUS CULTURA
The Special Unit for Public Expenditure and the Repression of Community Frauds investigates scams and attempted scams. Among the various suspicious movements analysed, the Gdf concentrated on anomalous movements, for example merchants where, on the same day, 100 or more beneficiaries had used the culture bonus in a single solution or for a sum exceeding 250 euros but divided into more shopping vouchers. The GdF also paid attention to the inconsistencies between the merchant's turnover and the value of the vouchers collected, and the limited time period for using the vouchers, often close to the expiry date. The GdF carried out investigations by going to suspect commercial establishments , but also by investigating communications made through e-mail, Telegram channels or commercial proposals present on websites. The GdF, in addition to reporting the frauds to the criminal judiciary and to the prefectures, has activated, where possible, precautionary measures for the recovery of sums unduly stolen from the State.
THE SCAMS DISCOVERED BY THE GDF
Last July, the Economic-Financial Police Unit of the Guardia di Finanza of Naples arrested a criminal organization which, through the complacency and collaboration of an owner of a computer wholesale business, managed to receive illegitimate reimbursements of over 3,300 18App vouchers causing damage to the Ministry of Culture in excess of one and a half million euros . In another case, near Jesi in the province of Ancona , the Gdf discovered a merchant who sold Play Stations and mobile phones (consumer goods not allowed) allowing about 200 buyers to use the benefits of the App 18. Similar situation in Catanzaro , where various people were arrested , including the owner of a computer shop, and an amount equal to the value of the sums defrauded from the state was confiscated, i.e. 590,152 euros.
WHAT IS THE CULTURE BONUS AND WHY PREMIER MELONI WANTS TO CHANGE IT
The culture bonus, also known as 18 apps , is an economic relief introduced by the Renzi government in favor of 18-year-olds to entice them to purchase cultural consumer goods. The bonus, for an amount of 500 euros , is paid to all eighteen year olds, regardless of the family income bracket to which they belong, to purchase books, tickets for museums, theatres, visits to monuments and archaeological parks, theater and dance, music courses, theater courses and foreign language courses, as well as subscriptions to newspapers, also in digital format. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni would like to reform the measure by introducing an income limit. “ There is no reason why the children of a millionaire, parliamentarians or my daughter should have these 500 euros when she makes them – said Giorgia Meloni in a video for social media -. While the same measure focused on lower incomes can be much more impactful”.
THE NUMBERS OF THE CULTURE BONUS
Since 2016, the year of its introduction, to date around 2.5 million newly adults have taken advantage of the culture bonus, for an expenditure of around 1.1 billion euros. In 2017, those born in 1998 spent it, in 80.6% of cases, on the purchase of books, in 8.9% to attend concerts, in 7.2% for the cinema, and only in 0.3% for museums and cultural events.
Meanwhile Federculture , the association that represents the most important cultural companies in the country , has launched an appeal not to set aside the culture bonus. "The news has arrived of the proposal to eliminate the only provision that encourages cultural consumption among young people (App 18) with the promise of using these "saved" resources always in the cultural sphere – reads the appeal published in many Italian newspapers -. We hope that this measure will be reconsidered , certain that dialogue is possible even in the short term, where there is a clear will".
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/economia/bonus-cultura-tutte-le-truffe-secondo-la-guardia-di-finanza/ on Wed, 14 Dec 2022 12:16:42 +0000.