£1 billion of fraud, found!

Published on Monday, 18 March 2013 11:32
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

The National Fraud Initiative (NFI), established in 1996, this week confirmed it has now helped identify over £1 billion potentially lost to fraud, overpayment or error, across the UK.

The outcomes include the prevention and detection of 15,000 cases of pension overpayments worth £450 million, almost 100,000 cases of council tax single person discounts incorrectly awarded worth £160 million and over £250 million of housing benefit overpayments. In addition, 68,736 blue badges and 97,361 concessionary travel passes have been cancelled.

Chairman of the Audit Commission, Jeremy Newman, says:  'The NFI is a powerful weapon in the fight to protect taxpayers' money from fraud. I applaud the commitment of the scheme's participants. The vigilance of organisations from local councils to central government departments, supplying essential data and investigating potential frauds flagged up by the initiative, has paid off to the tune of £1 billion. We are working hard to ensure this valuable legacy of the Audit Commission continues to benefit the public.'

The Audit Commission's 17-year-old initiative compares data held by: 1,300 public sector and 77 private sector organisations. These include sister audit bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, government departments and other national agencies. It flags up inconsistencies in data that potentially indicate a fraud is taking place, and signals the need for a closer investigation.

The initiative helps detect one-off individual frauds or error, as well as serious wide-scale organised crime. It helps find patterns in fraud activity that might otherwise be missed at a local level, for example if activities are repeated over a large geographical area or masked by false identities. It helps provide a national picture of fraud and highlights some emerging fraud risks.

The NFI has introduced real-time and flexible matching alongside the traditional two-yearly national matching NFI exercise. The new modules align with the government's key policies focusing on protecting the UK economy from fraud.  The NFI now allows a participant to hunt for frauds more often and to tailor their search to best suit their needs, for example: undertaking regular data matching to target tenancy fraud in a geographical area.

Source: Audit Commission

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