Swedish court jails mother and sons over fake mental disability

Stockholm (AFP) - A Swedish court on Wednesday jailed a woman and her two adult sons for fraud after the elder brother pretended to be mentally disabled for more than a decade to receive social benefits.

Vlasta Bandova, a 49-year-old, a citizen of both Slovakia and Slovenia, claimed her son needed diapers and help with everything, according to the Malmo district court, leading medical officials to provide the necessary documents to receive financial help to pay for his care.

"He was therefore granted assistance allowance and his mother was hired as his personal assistant," the court said.

Between 2006 and 2015, the family received social benefits worth nearly nine million kronor (around 944,000 euros, $990,000).

Authorities cut off the family's benefits in 2015 after receiving several tip-offs since 2001 and following a police report in 2012.

The elder son, 32-year-old Frantisek Banda, told the court that he pretended to be mentally disabled by making it impossible for people to make contact with him.

But he denied the fraud charge, claiming he was forced to carry out the ruse under threat from another unnamed person, the court documents showed.

Frantisek Banda was sentenced to two years in prison.

The court sentenced the mother and her youngest son Marian Banda, 30, to three years in prison. Both had denied providing wrongful information about Frantisek's condition.

The court ordered the trio to pay damages "equalling the amount of the benefits that were paid on erroneous grounds," it said.

The two sons were born in Slovakia but moved to Sweden with their mother in 1998.

The Scandinavian country is known for its cradle-to-grave welfare system, which includes affordable health care and generous social benefits for those in need.