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Fraud against the Council

The Council can be exposed to fraud, theft, bribery and corruption through a variety of internal and external sources. The Office for National Statistics reported a 25% increase in fraud offences for the year ending March 2022 and this trend appears to be continuing. The National Audit Office (NAO) recently stated that their estimate (including tax and welfare) is that every year at least £33.2bn of taxpayers’ money is subject to fraud and error. According to the NAO between 0.5-5% of public spend is lost to fraud and error. Telford & Wrekin Council is committed to tackling fraud, theft, bribery and corruption.

Telford & Wrekin Council’s procedures and controls are designed to minimise the opportunity for fraud, theft, bribery and corruption. These controls are continually reviewed and assessed as the fraud landscape changes. However, due to the nature of criminality and the vast amount of services that the Council provides, there will always be occasions where offences occur.

The Investigation Team, based in Audit and Governance have responsibility for investigating all matters of fraud, theft, irregularity, bribery and corruption that effects Telford & Wrekin Council to ensure that public funds are used for those in genuine need. Action includes prosecution against those committing fraud. Steps are also taken to recover any losses and where appropriate, receive maximum publicity to deter potential fraudsters. 

If you suspect that an individual, a group of people or organisation is committing fraud against Telford & Wrekin Council you can report online.

The following is a list of some of the common types of fraud that may be committed against a Council. This list is not exhaustive and there may be other ways in which fraudsters attempt to steal money from the local authority.

An agency worker is supplied by an employment agency to carry out agreed tasks for a specified period of time. They could commit fraud by:

  • claiming for hours that they have not worked
  • charging inflated rates
  • not providing work of the required standard.

View our Benefit and Council Tax Fraud page to find out more about reporting suspected fraud in relation to:

  • Council Tax liability
  • Council Tax Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Single Person Discount and other exemptions.

This is where an employee manipulates the councils systems or fails to comply with policies for their own benefit or the benefit of someone else.

Are you aware of any employees committing fraud against the council?

Below are examples of how employees could commit fraud against Telford & Wrekin Council:

  • bogus customer records and bank accounts are created so that false payments can be generated
  • processing false claims from accomplices for benefits, grants or repayments
  • self authorising payments to themselves
  • claiming travel and subsistence for journeys that were not made, making false client entertainment claims and making claims for amounts higher than that spent
  • making unauthorised amendments to documents such as timesheets
  • forging signatures to authorise payment
  • staff on sick leave but working elsewhere
  • abuses of flexible working time systems
  • conducting personal work while being paid by the council
  • supplying council information to outsiders for personal gain
  • adjusting records of the amounts owed by customers in return for cash rewards or other incentives.

Members of the public make insurance claims against the Council where they have faced personal injury or loss and believe the Council to be responsible, for example, injury arising from accidents on a public footpath.

Are you aware of individuals making false insurance claims against the council? For example they are:

  • exaggerating the extent of injuries or damage caused by a genuine accident
  • claiming that an item that is lost, stolen or damaged is worth more than its real value
  • claiming for an item that did not exist
  • claiming for an accident that did not happen
  • staging an accident so that a claim can be made
  • claiming for an accident that happened elsewhere
  • submitting invoices that have been inflated to include work or items that should not form part of the insurance claim.

Money laundering is the process of making large amounts of money generated by a criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or terrorist funding, appear to have come from a legitimate source. The money from the criminal activity is considered dirty, and the process “launders” it to make it look clean. Money laundering itself is a crime.

Criminals can make payments to Telford & Wrekin Council using money obtained from crime and then later seek a refund that makes the money appear clean or legitimate.

Are you aware of people or organisations that are making payments to the Council using money that resulted from the proceeds of crime?

Procurement is the process of acquiring goods and services in order to satisfy the needs of a person, group or organisation. Council procurement ranges from purchasing small commodities such as stationery to large one-off purchases such as new street lighting or buildings; through to long term specialist services such as waste management or care provision.

Are you aware of any person's or organisations that are not providing goods and services in accordance with the council's requirements, for example:

  • bidding organisations collude to agree that they will not bid competitively for a particular contract
  • employees of the Council have been given inducements (bribes) in order to favour a person or organisation when awarding contracts; inducements may include money, goods, services, holidays and hospitality
  • employees failing to declare an interest in one of the businesses bidding
  • employees making false payments or overpayments to businesses
  • employees clearing invoices for good for personal use
  • businesses submitting false invoices for work not completed, goods not provided and for extra costs deliberately omitted from the original quotation or tender
  • businesses providing duplicate invoices for goods and services where payment has already been completed
  • businesses overcharging including, inflating hourly rates and applying excessive mark-up of goods
  • businesses providing goods and services that are inferior to those specified or expected
  • businesses providing false or inflated performance information to receive higher payments
  • businesses providing sub-standard goods.

Recruitment and Selection is the process of securing the employment of the right person, with the right skills at the right time. The process is heavily governed by extensive legislation.

Are you aware of any people who are working for the Council who should not be? For example:

  • the recruitment process has been manipulated to favour one applicant
  • employees who provided false or inaccurate information on their application, for example, providing false references, qualifications and work histories
  • employees who have provided fake or forged documents as proof of their identity
  • employees who do not have a valid permit to work in the UK
  • recruitment of a family member or a friend.

Fraud within Social Care can occur in many ways.

  • An individual, representative or power of attorney fails disclose income, money or assets in order to qualify for financial assistance.
  • An individual, representative or power of attorney fails to report when financial circumstances have changed that would mean that an individual no longer qualifies for assistance.

Personal Budgets also known as Direct Payments have become an increasingly common way to deliver social care. Direct payments are made to service users, representatives or power of attorneys enabling them to have greater control over the purchase of their care provision. The transfer of the control of funds to those requiring care can give rise to an increased risk of fraud. Below are examples of fraud within personal budgets:

  • falsely obtaining a higher level of personal budget than their true condition and care needs require
  • failing to declare capital or assets in order to obtain a higher level of personal budget
  • applying for or obtaining multiple Personal Budgets from different Councils
  • paying for care that has not been provided by the carer
  • providing false or fake receipts and invoices to justify Personal Budget expenditure
  • purchasing items or services not related to their care needs
  • paying close family members as carers, where they are not eligible to be a carer
  • failing to report changes in circumstances where their care needs have reduced
  • a carer using a person's personal budgets for their own use
  • a representative continuing to receive Personal Budget payments after a person has died, or carer continuing to submit time sheets in order to be paid after a service user has died
  • vulnerable individuals being financially abused to take advantage of their money.

Individuals or companies can make a false application for any of the various grants that the Council awards by providing false, fictitious or misleading information on the application.

Mandate fraud is where someone tricks an organisation into changing details of a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer by pretending to be an organisation that the organisation makes regular payments to in order to falsely receive the payment that was due to the genuine company. 

An example would be when a fraudster pretends to work for one of the council’s genuine suppliers and asks the council to change the bank account that it pays into. Rather than paying the genuine company the council pays funds inadvertently into the fraudster’s bank account. The false requests are designed to look like they have come from a genuine company. The fraudsters can imitate website details and emails to look very genuine.

The list above is not exhaustive and there are many ways in which an individual, group or company could falsely obtain money or services from the authority, by using false or misleading information or failing to inform the authority of something that they have a duty to report.

Last updated: 13/06/2023 15:42

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