'Hunters' of false deaths 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
19 March 2023 Sunday 11:00
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'Hunters' of false deaths 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, at the wheel of his passenger car as if nothing had happened. A worker on long leave due to depression making a combination in a bar amid much laughter...

These are just a few examples of unemployment fraud. All with a common denominator. In these cases, it was the protagonists themselves who "went into the wolf's throat", says a forensic computer expert: they themselves published images on their social networks of dancing, driving or drinking. Behaviors not at all in accordance with the illnesses manifested by these workers in their respective leave reports that they had submitted to the companies.

And another unpublished fact: "This type of investigation, years ago reserved for private detectives, has now exploded in the offices of computer forensic experts", says Pablo Duchement, computer engineer, professor and forensic expert. This is corroborated by Ángel Bahamontes, president of the National Association of Appraisers and Forensic Computer Experts (ANTPJI).

To hunt down these fraudsters, it is no longer necessary to leave the office, or set up surveillance at the door of a home or discreetly track potential offenders. Now it is enough to "patrol" the social networks of those people who suspiciously prolong their absence from work.

And sometimes discovering them "is a matter of minutes", reveals Pablo Duchement. It's surprising that a person who is on sick leave due to a broken hip posts a video on social networks doing jumps, "like there's no tomorrow", at a concert. But it happens "and many more times than we imagine", adds this judicial IT expert. It is another account of that desire to be present on the networks at all times, even if uploading that image becomes a statement against oneself.

You might think, from the employer's point of view, that a screenshot of this worker dancing should be enough to uncover the fraud. It's not like that. The job of these experts, informs Ángel Bahamontes, "is to certify that the images are real, not fake, and to identify without a doubt the time and place where they were captured".

That is why every day more and more companies turn to these experts in the processes to dismiss this type of employee. "The most common 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 checks that the information is real and with his certificate the judge has it much easier when issuing a decision. "You have to think that many magistrates are currently very familiar with fake news, so our reports are key, and essential in the resolution of this kind of labor conflicts", he points out.

And another upward trend noted by these IT experts: "For some time there have been more and more cases uncovered by people close to those allegedly fraudulent workers", reveals Pablo Duchement. There is more awareness that employees who fake an injury or illness to collect sick leave "commit a fraud that we all pay for", concluded the interviewees.