Brian Sims
Editor

National Fraud Initiative safeguards £2 billion-plus of taxpayers’ money

AN ANTI-fraud scheme run by the Cabinet Office has detected or prevented more than £2 billion of fraud since it was launched 25 years ago, in turn helping to protect public money and put fraudsters behind bars.

The National Fraud Initiative plays a critical role in identifying people trying to defraud the public sector, ensuring taxpayers’ money goes towards delivering vital services instead of ending up in the wrong hands.

Cabinet Office Minister Lord Agnew said: “The work done by the National Fraud Initiative is keeping nefarious fingers out of the public purse, protecting funding which can go towards essential services such as the NHS. It’s entirely right that British taxpayers expect the Government to protect their hard-earned money and programmes such as these allow us to do exactly that.”

One such case – reported by Security Matters – saw the IT manager of an NHS Trust sent to prison for defrauding the Government of £800,000 (the equivalent of 16 nurses’ wages for a year). His criminal activity was detected thanks to the work of the National Fraud Initiative and its collaborators on the case, the Local Counter Fraud Specialist, the NHS Counter Fraud Authority and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

Ben Rowe, senior investigator at the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, said: “The National Fraud Initiative was key in identifying a serious fraud being perpetrated by someone in a position of trust who was stealing large sums of money intended for essential NHS services. The scheme offers an excellent example of collaborative working between Government agencies.”

Assistance for public bodies

Another case discovered one man fraudulently claimed more than £40,000 of incapacity benefit, income support and Council Tax benefits. After this was detected by the National Fraud Initiative, further investigation found that the main owned several small businesses, had savings of more than £100,000 and drove a Mercedes Benz complete with personalised number plates.

Since it was established in 1996, the National Fraud Initiative has also helped public bodies prevent more than £300 million of Council Tax discount scams, £370 million of housing benefit fraud and almost £850 millon of pension payments being made in error. Further, it has taken more than 183,000 fraudulently claimed disabled parking badges out of circulation.

The work being conducted by the National Fraud Initiative to keep fraudsters out of the public purse has recently been recognised by the UK Fintech Awards, whereby the scheme picked up the Data Initiative of the Year Award for its industry-leading use of data.

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