Greek authorities announced a nationwide investigation of birth certificates on Tuesday, as part of the well-publicized search for the parents of a young girl who identity remains unknown after she was found living with a Roma couple accused of abducting her.
A top Greek prosecutor ordered the probe into birth certificates issued since Jan. 1, 2008, which is also part of an effort to address problems in the birth registration system as a whole, the Associated Press reports. Allegations of fraud by families declaring birth in multiple regions to collect more benefits have been revived in the wake of the media frenzy surrounding the mystery blonde girl, named Maria. Police say that the Roma couple accused of kidnapping Maria were receiving $3,420 a month in benefits from different cities, even though 10 of the 14 children they had registered were nowhere to be found.
On Monday, the mayor of Athens suspended three officials in charge of record-keeping after investigators realized that a large number of births were being declared near the end of the three-month deadline, a sign that they may have been reported multiple times.
Maria’s case has caused a worldwide outpouring of interest in missing children, including over 8,000 calls to the Greek authorities. Maria’s DNA, which did not match the couple she was living with, has been entered into an Interpol database in an effort to find her family.
The Roma family she was found with says they adopted her legitimately.