The £3.6m worth of scams smashed by Durham Council – including one benefit fraud of £114,000 | #employeefraud | #recruitment | #corporatesecurity


Durham County Council recovered or intercepted frauds and scams worth £3.6 million last year, according to a new report.

In the financial year 2019/20, the authority’s fraud team saw 1,156 referrals for fraud activity compared to 978 the previous year.

Of the referrals, the council investigated around 721 cases and discovered a total of 275 frauds.

The figures were revealed in the council’s annual ‘protecting the public purse’ report which looks at actions taken to stamp out corporate fraud across the county.

Council chiefs have said the spikes in referrals and investigations were the result of successful campaigns, increased awareness and partnership working.

“The corporate fraud team have been involved in a wide range of activity across the year and there’s been a continued fraud awareness campaign across the county council as a whole,” Chief Internal Auditor and Corporate Fraud Manager, Paul Bradley, said.

“In terms of performance, the team has recovered or intercepted more than £3.5 million worth of fraud.

“The largest area in the year has been the prevention of right to buy fraud and that has been working with the county’s registered social landlords.”

Mr Bradley was speaking at Monday’s (June 29) Audit Committee which was held remotely and broadcast live on YouTube in line with social distancing guidelines.

In 2019/20 alone, frauds discovered by the council had a total value of £3,633,976.21 with more than two thirds of the sum linked to ‘right to buy’ cons.

Tenancy frauds alone had a value of nearly £320,000 while insurance frauds had a value of £160,408.

Other frauds uncovered by the team included council tax support, direct payments, employee fraud and single person discount.

Meanwhile, a single case of housing benefit fraud had a huge value of £114,563.18.

The report prepared for councillors this week reads: “The value of the fraud outcomes for 2019/20 has increased significantly.

“This is due to the partnership work with Believe Housing, Gentoo Homes, Karbon Homes and Livin Housing, especially the right to buy verification/money laundering checks and the savings involved.”

It went on to say: “As with all fraud investigations carried out, where weaknesses in control are identified, recommendations are made to minimise the risk of repeat cases.

“Where applicable, and where patterns emerge, this helps inform the Internal Audit Plan and potential proactive fraud work in the future.”

The corporate fraud team is responsible for investigating cases of suspected fraud both internally and externally, alongside assisting with counter fraud activity.

Mr Bradley added Durham County Council’s team had been recognised nationally for their work in recent years.

This includes being shortlisted for ‘fraud team of the year’ with the Institute of Revenues, Ratings and Valuations and the upcoming ‘fighting fraud locally award’.

For more information on fraud and how to report it, visit: www.durham.gov.uk/fraud





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