Thursday, 6 December 2012

Spy vs Scrounger

This 'World In Action' programme from 1983 starts with a raid on a gypsy camp in Essex, before showing us some nice extracts from the Fraud Investigator's Guide.

The programme is pretty one sided, focusing on cases where offences are committed out of sheer desperation or where the charges were apparently trumped up (although no actual evidence is provided one way or another) - cases where fraud is carried out purely for personal gain do not seem to exist - had they never heard 'Wham! Rap' ('give a wham, give a bam, but don't give a damn, 'cause the benefit gang are gonna pay')? To add balance, a former DHSS investigator is dragged in to discuss methods of detection, and is interviewed as if he had been a member of the Ton Ton Macoute

In the end, however, they conclude that far more money could be reclaimed by going after those guilty of tax evasion, but cracking down on benefits cheats seems to appeal to the public's baser instincts and scores cheap political points - and I can't really disagree with that. Phew, aren't you glad we don't live like that now?

Claimant - Scrounger
Snooper - Spy
Interestingly, the ongoing conflict between the spies and the scroungers is largely a Cold War, fought in disguise and at a distance, hence the John Le Carre tribute title. The man in the fisherman's hat is not the Phantom Flan Flinger on his way to the Tyne Tees studios, but rather a loft insulator by trade, and a benefit cheat by necessity (or is that the other way round?). Either way, I expect the hat comes in handy. Nasty stuff, that fibreglass

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