A man who received illicit disability money says a Labour Party canvasser and a former minister’s aide lured him into the benefits fraud racket, in return for his vote and a kickback amounting to a year’s worth of benefits.

Speaking to Times of Malta on condition of anonymity, the man – a long-time Labour supporter – said he became disgruntled around a year before the 2022 election because the party would not help him with something he believed he had a right for.

The man, who is among dozens questioned by police and is expected to be charged in court, said: “I was so angry I began to tell people I would not vote in the next election. I made it clear to my friends and even to people in the party. Then one day I got a call from a party canvasser, who was also a minister’s aide a few years back, and he asked me what was wrong,” the man recalled.

“When I explained to him, he said, ‘Oh, come on, do go vote, there’s a pension you can apply for. You’ll get more than €400 a month for nothing.’

“I was not sure at the beginning, but he assured me it was safe and I was blinded by it. I took the benefit and I kept my word and voted Labour again.”

He claimed that in return, the man asked him for a kickback – the first year’s worth of disability payments.

We interviewed some of the beneficiaries of the fraud. Video: Karl Andrew Micallef

“I didn’t keep any money the first year. Every benefit I received, I would give directly to him.

“I only started keeping the money for myself after I gave him all the money I received during the first year.

“And many other people were lured into the scheme like me.”

Suspected middlemen being probed

Like dozens of other fraudulent beneficiaries, the man is now risking criminal charges and is prepared to return all the money he received. He is convinced however, that he will have to cough up even more than the amount he kept, because it is probably impossible to retrieve the kickback money.

Senior police sources have confirmed with Times of Malta that investigators are looking into the potential role of one or more middlemen who were allegedly pushing the racket to spread among voters while cashing in on the ill-gotten gains.

Times of Malta revealed last Sunday that ex-Labour MP Silvio Grixti has been implicated in a years-long racket to help “hundreds” of people fraudulently receive monthly disability benefits they were not entitled to.

Evidence seen by Times of Malta indicates Grixti, a popular family doctor, provided false medical documents to help people, often hailing from Labour strongholds, to receive monthly social benefits for severe disabilities they did not suffer from.

The fraud saw the claimants receive monthly payments averaging €450 from the social security department.

Some 141 people have so far been ordered to return a total of €2.1 million in severe disability assistance benefits they were not entitled to, but the figure is expected to climb even higher as police continue to comb through all 761 applications that were awarded the benefit between 2019 and 2022.

Sources said the racket could have begun even before 2019 and the scheme did not just implicate Grixti.

They say the racket became renowned enough within Labour circles to take a life of its own, with some claimants telling police they obtained the forged certificates from people other than Grixti.

The man who spoke to Times of Malta was one of them.

“I never went to Grixti. The party canvasser gave me the envelope with the documents but I didn’t know what it contained or where he got it from,” he said.

Some claimants, on the other hand, have told police they were referred to Grixti by a minister, a minister’s aide or from the customer care section at Castille, the prime minister’s office. Both the Office of the Prime Minister and the ministers deny ever referring people to engage in fraudulent activity.

‘Grixti saved my life’

Another woman who received money she was not entitled to insisted with Times of Malta that she was sent to Grixti by the Office of the Prime Minister’s customer care section.

A multitude of illnesses and surgeries landed her family in a very tight spot, she said, and her ailing health forced her at times to choose whether to buy food or medicine.

She tried to apply for the same benefit through her family doctor more than once and was rejected every time, because she was not eligible for it.

The Office of the Prime Minister, at the Auberge de Castille. Photo: ShutterstockThe Office of the Prime Minister, at the Auberge de Castille. Photo: Shutterstock

“I was desperate and began to ask around for a social benefit that would help my family financially. I even went to Castille’s customer care section, where they told me to go to Dr Grixti because he can help me,” she said.

“And they specifically told me to tell him that I was being referred to him from Castille.”

Not fully aware what this meant, she went to Grixti and told him about her medical and financial struggles and that she was referred to him from Castille.

“It was like he knew about me and knew exactly why I went there. With a smile he told me to sit down, filled in some papers and told me to take them to the social security department.

“That doctor saved my life.”

She said Grixti never asked her to vote for him or the party, did not charge her for the service and never even implied that this was a favour that needed to be returned in some way.

When she insisted on paying him, he told her he was doing it simply to help.

Grixti has so far declined to comment when contacted via his lawyers Franco Debono and Arthur Azzopardi.

The woman now wants to return all the money but is aware that this will likely land her into the poverty trap once more.

Another man who spoke to Times of Malta this week admitted, however, that he knew exactly what the racket was all about and decided to try his luck after hearing about it from a friend.


Recipients were provided with falsified medical documents, such as this one, which they used to obtain benefits;Recipients were provided with falsified medical documents, such as this one, which they used to obtain benefits;

He claimed that he suffered from mental health problems, but not the kind that would make him eligible for the severe disability benefit.

“They assured me things would go smoothly and nobody will be caught,” he said, adding that he now feels guilty for what he did and has already returned the full amount to the social security department.

Interviewed in under five minutes

People who apply for the severe disability benefit must take their documents for an interview before a government-appointed medical board that is tasked with assessing the validity of the applications before approving the applicant for the benefit.

But the people who spoke to Times of Malta noted how the interview before the medical board felt hasty. The applicants passed on forged documents to the board members who failed to notice anything wrong with them.

“I gave them the papers, they read through them and said I could go. It lasted around five minutes,” the woman said.

Another of the beneficiaries said: “It took four to five minutes. They asked me a few questions and that was it.”

The other man said: “Mine was two minutes. They asked me to confirm that I suffered from the condition, I said yes and that was it.”

On Saturday, the Social Policy Ministry said that a three-person board led by retired judge Antonio Mizzi would look into the way in which assessments were made, to identify weaknesses and recommend changes.

The ministry has previously acknowledged that it knew of the allegations back in September 2022. 

Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon. Photo: Jonathan BorgSocial Policy Minister Michael Falzon. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Police investigations revealed that the packet of documents they handed over to the medical board contained forged medical certificates appearing to confirm that the patients suffered from a condition they did not have.

The certificates appeared to be signed by consultants who later confirmed they had never examined the patients and that their signature was forged for the purpose of the racket.

In many cases, the packet also contained a forged Transport Malta document appearing to confirm the applicant had forfeited their driving licence because the condition made them unfit to drive.

The people who spoke to Times of Malta all confirmed they continued to drive normally and were never asked to return their licence.

A few weeks after the board interview all of them started to receive payments averaging €450 monthly.

'A fish stinks from its head'

The three individuals who spoke to Times of Malta said they feel cheated and hurt, and they fear the “big fish in the racket” might get away with it and never face justice.

“I feel guilty. I feel I was used so they would get what they wanted,” one man said.

“A fish usually stinks from the head, and there is no way one man alone with his patients could have pulled a scheme of this magnitude.

“I hope the other people involved are caught because it’s not fair to ruin the vulnerable people and leave the powerful ones untouched.”

The people who spoke to Times of Malta did not mention the names of the people who got them into the racket, saying that either they did not know the name or else that they feared exposing the names would put them in danger.

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