Fraudsters cost us billions and find new ways to cheat

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Posted on: 09/11/2012 11:16 by Andrew Hyatt
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If you pay council tax - get angry. What follows below could make you take a stand against the cheats costing us billions.

For every law abiding council tax payer - this is an outrage. For those unable to access scarce local authority services - it is infuriating. Cheats are robbing billions from local councils. Now we have details of new figures and new cons.

Fraud against public bodies is costing £20.3 billion a year - every penny sapped from the hard-pressed tax payer. Council losses account for well over £2 billion of this total - it is a nothing short of a national disgrace.

Now a new report from the Audit Commission says the number of cons is still multiplying, as fraudsters find new ways to rip-off the communities they live in.

Cons involving business rates are rising - with fraudsters misusing of rate relief. Councils take over management of the Social Fund from Jobcentre Plus in April. This provides grants to help people facing immediate financial difficulty, which is worth £130.1 million – an attractive prospect for fraudsters. Schools have also been one of the rising new targets with internal and external frauds.

The report lists case studies of successful fraud prosecutions. Among them:

+ A fraudster claiming she was homeless, who used a false driving licence and immigration status. She claimed eight years’ worth of housing benefit totalling £144,000, and received a 12 month suspended sentence for fraud.

+ A husband and wife used fake identities to receive a discount of £38,000 to help purchase a £125,000 property under Right to Buy legislation. They were found guilty of receiving property by deception and were given custodial sentences. The council recovered its losses and regained the property.

+ A school administrator who fraudulently claimed overtime valued at about £55,000, settled her credit card bills through school accounts and gave money to her partner. The total fraud was valued at £142,000. She was sentenced to two years imprisonment, and the school’s Head teacher was sacked for poor supervision.