'Hunters' of false casualties in the networks

A young man on sick leave due to a broken hip “giving it his all” at a Camela concert.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
18 March 2023 Saturday 22:55
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'Hunters' of false casualties in the networks

A young man on sick leave due to a broken hip “giving it his all” at a Camela concert. A worker theoretically unable to drive machinery due to a serious eye injury, behind the wheel of his car as if nothing had happened. An employee with a long leave due to depression having a drink in a bar with lots of laughter…

These are just a few examples of sick leave fraud. All with a common denominator. In these cases, it was the protagonists themselves who "got into the lion's den," says a judicial computer expert, by posting images of themselves dancing, driving or drinking on their social networks. Conduct not at all consistent with the ailments manifested by these workers in their respective leaves of absence presented to their companies.

And another unpublished piece of information: “This type of investigation, years ago reserved for private detectives, has now exploded in the offices of judicial computer experts,” says Pablo Duchement, a computer engineer, professor and legal expert. This is corroborated by Ángel Bahamontes, president of the National Association of Appraisers and Computer Judicial Experts (Antpji).

To hunt down these fraudsters, you no longer have to leave the office, set up surveillance at the door of a home or discreetly follow up on potential offenders. Now it is enough to "patrol" through the social networks of those people who suspiciously prolong their sick leave.

And sometimes discovering them "is a matter of minutes", reveals Pablo Duchement. It is surprising that a person who is on leave with a hip fracture would post a video of himself on his own social media channels jumping, “like there was no tomorrow”, at a concert. But it happens, "and many times more than we imagine," adds this judicial computer expert. It is another invoice of the desire to always be present on the networks, even if posting that image is a statement against oneself.

It might be thought, from the employer's point of view, that a screenshot showing that worker dancing would be enough to uncover the fraud. It is not like this. The job of these experts, reports Ángel Bahamontes, "is to certify that these images are real, they are not faked, and to locate without any doubt the time and place where they were captured."

Hence, every day there are more companies that resort to these expert opinions in the processes to dismiss these employees. "The usual thing is that it is the businessman himself who puts us on the track of the case, with a video or a photo and the address of a certain channel," says Duchement.

The expert then verifies that this information is real and with his certificate the judge usually has it much easier when issuing a decision. "You have to think that many magistrates are currently very chastened by fake news, so our reports have become key and essential in resolving these labor disputes," he points out.

And another upward trend verified by these computer experts: "For some time now, more and more cases have been uncovered by people from the environment of these supposedly fraudulent workers," reveals Pablo Duchement. There is more awareness that those employees who simulate an injury or illness to collect sick leave "are committing fraud that we all pay for," the interviewees conclude.