A man walks through the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial across from New York's One World Trade Center at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey on September 9, 2013. Picture: Gary Hershorn

Washington -

Dozens of retired New York City police officers and firemen have been charged with falsely claiming they were mentally scarred by 9/11 as part of a £243 million scam

The men are said to have claimed they could not sleep and were suffering panic attacks after the terrorist attacks in 2001, in which nearly 3 000 died.

But in fact they were healthy and were part of the largest scam ever perpetrated against the US Social Security system, officials said.

Some boasted of their lifestyles on Facebook. One claimed to be acting as a personal bodyguard to stars such as Sir Sean Connery.

The alleged scam was run by four men aged between 61 and 89, who denied the charges at Manhattan’s Criminal Court, and are said to have recruited at least 102 other defendants who were coached to appear mentally distressed.

Half of the defendants claimed their ‘injuries’ were caused by 9/11. Prosecutors say up to £243 million could have been claimed. - Daily Mail