Over €80 million in social welfare payments were reclaimed by the state last year.
The Department of Social Protection recovered payments from around 115,000 people in 2022.
They totalled €80.5 million, with the largest amounts relating to the state pension and jobseekers' allowance.
7,792 reports of welfare fraud were received by the department last year, with over 80 per cent referred for investigation.
Criminal prosecutions are taken against people who defraud the system.
“Very often the overpayment of welfare social protection payments can happen for a variety of reasons,” barrister and Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward told Newstalk.
“It is sometimes a mistake on behalf of the recipient or it is sometimes done deliberately in a fraudulent way.
“When that happens there needs to be a criminal prosecution to ensure that the integrity of the system remains.
“Because if people think they’re going to get away with it then they’re much more likely to do it.”
A total of 123 criminal cases of welfare fraud were referred to the Chief State Solicitors Office last year.
And during the year, 66 cases were finalised in court - and four people were jailed for the crime.
Main image: A Social Welfare Office. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland