Expat benefit cheats soaking up the sun are costing UK taxpayers millions of pounds a year, according to government fraud investigators.
Spain tops the league for fraudsters falsely claiming benefits as UK residents while secretly living overseas.
The government reckons £63 million was wrongly paid to Brits living overseas last year.
Around 134 benefit cheats are under investigation in Spain – and the government hopes to reclaim £3.1 million back from them.
Only UK residents have the right to claim some benefits, like income support and job seeker allowance.
To counter the fraudsters in the Costa Del Sol and Canary Islands, the government is appealling for information via a telephone hot line on 900 554 440 or benefit fraud web site secure.dwp.gov.uk/benefitfraud/
In the past, benefit fraudsters have been caught enjoying the sun while illegally claiming cash to fund their lifestyles from posting holiday snaps on Facebook pages.
Employment and Welfare Reform Minister Tony McNulty said: “We are absolutely determined to stop benefit thieves stealing from the British taxpayer. Our commitment extends beyond the borders of the UK. Even in sunny Spain, we’re closing in on benefit fraud.
“The British government takes benefit theft seriously. There is no hiding place for anyone who thinks they can get away with stealing taxpayers’ money because they are abroad.”
Who pays for expat medical bills is also a row that has triggered more bad feeling between the British and Spanish governments.
Spain is tightening up rules about medical care, with health minister Ana MAto claiming medical tourism costs the country a billion euros a year.
She says relatives of foreign residents go to Spain expecting free medical care to which they are not entitled. New rules mean foreigners seeking health care in Spain will have to prove they are retired or paying taxes before they obtain treatment.
The iExpats retire in Spain guide is online now to help expats decide if retirement to Spain is a YES!