Brazil dismantles gang that cheated air crash victims

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Brazilian authorities dismantled a gang Thursday that faked documents to fraudulently collect compensation owed to air accident victims.

Federal prosecutors pressed charges against 20 people who masqueraded as relatives of air crash victims who died leaving no heir.

The victims had died in a 2009 Air France crash that killed 228 people, a 2007 Brazilian TAM airliner crash in Sao Paulo and the crash of a Brazilian Gol in the Amazon jungle in 2006.

"As many of the people who died (in the crashes) had no next of kin, the fraudsters faked (social security) documents to pass themselves off as relatives and thus illegally collected pensions," prosecutors said in a statement.

Officials said the gang illegally collected $1.6 million through their scheme.

The Air France crash into the Atlantic was the worst air disaster in Brazil's history. A total of 199 people died in the TAM crash, while 154 people died when a Gol passenger jet collided with a small private plane and crashed in the Amazon jungle.

© 2011 AFP

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