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The National Insurance Institute plans to indict 150 Israelis from the north of the country on suspicion of welfare fraud, the NII said Sunday.

NII director general Dr. Yigal Ben Shalom said the total number of indictments could double, and said this was the first time such a large number of people were being charged with illegally receiving welfare payments.

The alleged fraud was facilitated by two production plants printing out forged documents, Ben Shalom said.

?We discovered two plants, one in the Galilee and the other in Netanya, that created documents that citizens used to receive welfare payments from National Insurance illegally,? Ben Shalom said. ?These factories printed forms with fictitious names of companies that purportedly had fired their employees, and printed forged salary slips that were presented to National Insurance clerks.?

Ben Shalom said one out of three welfare claims arouse suspicion that the person submitting the claim is not entitled to the money because such a person owns valuable property, such as real estate or a car. He said 30 percent of the ?suspicious? claims are then transferred to NII investigators.

Ben Shalom estimated that about 7,000 people ? or 4.6 percent of the approximately 150,000 welfare recipients in the country - commit welfare fraud every year, and said the NII does not have the means to cope effectively with the phenomenon.