The Irish Government has been cheated out of millions of euro by immigrants who flew in and out of Ireland every month to collect their benefits.

A shocking report showed that thousands of immigrants, mainly Eastern European, cheated the Irish Government out of millions of euro between October 2007 and February 2008.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs initially found that 76 out of a random 776 non-nationals who claim benefits in Ireland were permanently living outside the State.

This finding prompted officials to order another 3,665 residency checks on foreign unemployment claimants and they found that an alarming 403 (11 percent) were defrauding the government.

The con artists maintained bank accounts in Ireland and flew into Ireland once a month to claim their cash at unemployment offices. The scam was earning them up to €1,000 ($1,400) a month each even after the cost of the air tickets.

The department has now ordered all non-Irish claimants to undergo residency checks.

The full extent of the scam has yet to be calculated but the department now says it has saved about €4m ($5.6m) for Ireland.

The news broke today amid reports that unemployment in Ireland has soared to a 13-year-high.

Ireland’s Central Statistics Office reported that almost 200,000 people lost their jobs last year, and a total of 413,500 people have signed up for unemployment benefits.