13 November 2017

International Fraud Awareness Week

12th to 18th November is International Fraud Awareness week. Veritau (the company that investigates fraud on behalf of the council) will be highlighting some of the frauds that affect our organisation.

If you want to know more about risks to the authority in your service area and how to report concerns to the fraud team, stay alert this week, lookout for articles on the intranet, and follow @VeritauLimited on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest fraud news and guidance.

With fraud costing local government an estimated £2.2 billion per year, it is more important than ever that staff across the council work together to fight fraud that threatens frontline services. Veritau are making it clear that anyone committing fraud against the council will be caught and can be subject to prosecution resulting in a criminal record, fines and/or a custodial sentence.

If you have concerns about fraud, contact Veritau at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0800 9179 247.

 

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13 November 2017

Data Protection reform and GDPR

GDPR is the new European Union data protection regulation. It will come into force on 25th May 2018 and will - we expect - be accompanied by a new UK Data Protection Act, ready for Brexit in 2019. Veritau will be helping its clients to prepare, and will of course be preparing itself. What are the main changes, and what must we all do?

Firstly, be compliant with the current Data Protection Act. Its features will all continue – the rights of data subjects, and the duties on data controllers – so fulfilling all of those will mean only the new features need to be added. A complete Information Asset Register is an essential tool for locating the contracts and privacy notices that should be reviewed.

There are some significant detailed changes but overall, organisations will have to be able to demonstrate compliance. So the Information Asset Register will now also record the legal basis of all processing. If that relies on consent, then each consent must be recorded. Indeed consent must be positively indicated – no more pre-ticked boxes.

Consent has always been difficult to rely on, and will become more so for large public sector organisations. The need to carry out “Public Task” – providing public services – is likely to become a more reliable legal basis.

The Information Asset Register will also help identify contracts for data processing, which must be reviewed because the processor will become liable for its data breaches directly to data subjects (and the Information Commissioner). The need for better evidence will also mean we must document all our data sharing with other data controllers.

Other headline changes:

  • time for a Subject Access Request is reduced to 30 days (although perhaps extendable)
  • maximum fine the ICO can impose rises to £18m
  • children of 13 and over will not need parental consent to use social media
  • new or different services must be subject to a Data Protection Impact Assessment
  • significant data breaches must be reported to ICO and perhaps data subjects

Lastly all public authorities (and other large organisations) must employ a Data Protection Officer. This can be either a person or an organisation, must be suitably qualified, and be given sufficient resources and independence to carry out the role.

Veritau Ltd can offer this service – for more information contact the information governance team at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

28 September, 2017

A Council Tax fraud totalling almost £5,000 was successfully prosecuted yesterday (27 September) by City of York Council for one of the city's longest running frauds for a single person’s Council Tax discount ever detected by the council.

At York Magistrates Court, a 55 year old man from Clifton, York, pleaded guilty to all charges. He was fined £373 and ordered to pay court costs of £760.80 and a £37 victim surcharge. He was also ordered to repay the £4,744.83 underpaid Council Tax.

The defendent claimed a 25 per cent discount on his Council Tax for 17 years by declaring that he was the only adult living at the property. An investigation was started when an anonymous caller told Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, that the man had been living with his partner for many years and that this had not been declared for council tax purposes.

The subsequent investigation found that the accused had been living with his partner since 2000. He had signed numerous forms in that time period stating he was a sole occupant of the address. As a result of his dishonesty, he had underpaid £4,744.83 Council Tax.

Councillor David Carr, leader of the council and executive member for finance and planning, said: “Falsely claiming single person discount is a crime which the council will prosecute. Thanks to the actions of the person who reported this, we’ve been able to recoup this significant sum of taxpayer’s money in what is one of the longest-running frauds of this sort in York.

“We encourage residents to report any suspicions of fraud via the council’s fraud hotline – 0800 9179247 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

 

 

21 June 2017

An investigation carried out by City of York Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a case of fraudulent misuse of the national blue badge scheme for disabled drivers.

A York resident used a blue badge belonging to someone with disabilities for her own use on Goodramgate on 12 December 2016.

The individual initially told the council officer who approached them about the blue badge they were displaying, that they had been Christmas shopping with the badge holder. However an investigation by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation team, found evidence that the badge holder was not present when the badge was used.

During the course of the investigation, the individual was interviewed under caution twice. Initially, the individual maintained that they had used the blue badge for the benefit of the badge holder. But when confronted with further evidence, they admitted to misusing it by parking on double yellow lines to pick up some furniture without the blue badge holder present.

The investigation concluded with the individual pleading guilty to the offence by post at York Magistrates Court on 21 June. They have been fined £60 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and prosecution costs of £100.

Cllr Ian Gillies, Executive Member for Transport and Planning, said: “This case shows that we, like other local authorities, take blue badge misuse very seriously and that we are committed to support drivers and passengers with disabilities.

“In this instance, the resident had parked her car illegally and displayed a blue badge to avoid a fine while parking on double yellow lines. This prevented someone with disabilities and a genuine need for their blue badge from using it in one of the busiest areas and seasons in York.

“Drivers tempted to display a blue badge fraudulently risk prosecution and a criminal record. We encourage anyone with any information on fraudulent activity to phone the fraud hotline on 01904 552935 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

 

 

21 June 2017

We are pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted for the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV) ‘Excellence in Counter Fraud’ Performance Award 2017.

 

 

6 February 2017

6th February to 10th February 2017 is Housing Fraud Awareness Week in Yorkshire and Humber. Veritau, along with local authorities and social landlords, will be campaigning to increase public awareness of frauds that take advantage of social housing.

Veritau, the team who investigate fraud on behalf of Richmondshire District Council, Selby District Council, City of York Council, Broadacres Housing Association, Home Group and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, work closely with housing providers to deal with allegations of tenancy fraud such as:

 

  • Subletting

  • Abandonment of council properties

  • Providing false information when applying for housing

  • Falsely trying to undertake a Right to Buy

  • Accepting money to complete a property exchange

 

Housing fraud can be prosecuted resulting in a criminal record. Fraudsters may also lose their council home if they misuse it or can be removed from waiting lists if they mislead or fail to inform housing providers of changes that may affect an application for housing.

Those who commit housing fraud deprive others in need of housing and cost our communities nearly £1 billion a year[1]. As a result, legislation was introduced in 2013 giving investigators additional powers to gather information and for housing providers to seek recovery of unlawful profits made by tenancy fraudsters.

Veritau are a member of the Yorkshire and Humber Tenancy Fraud Forum; a group of fraud professionals that strive to tackle those who abuse the housing system. You can follow the work done by fraud teams in the region by searching #housingcheats. You can also follow the work of Veritau on facebook and twitter using the links below.

If you suspect someone is involved in tenancy fraud, or any other fraud against the council, you can let us know by calling 01904 552935 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


[1] Reported by the Chartered Institute of Housing

 

Fraud Poster

 

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Please tell us your concerns

At Veritau many of our fraud referrals come from departments within our client organisations, as well as members of the public. We want you to know that you are free to report anything you have suspicions about, which may come to your attention via several methods: phone call, house visit, member of the public, whistle blowing, spotting it on your systems, observing it yourself, etc.

Members of public often report fraud to us through our fraud hotline (01904 552935). However, from time to time members of the public will ring or approach staff directly in our client organisations to report a fraud. If they do, please forward the details to us on our hotline number. But sometimes a fraud referral call may not be obvious; the caller may begin talking generally about a certain situation before you realise they are trying to report a fraud.  If this happens, please try to obtain as much information as possible - this may be our only chance to speak to them. Please ask:

  • What the person thinks is fraudulent about the situation
  • Names and addresses of all people involved in the allegation
  • What they do for a living
  • How long the fraud has been going on
  • Details of any vehicles used by the person(s)

It might be useful to read back everything you’ve written to the caller/person. Besides confirming the details, doing this may remind them of more information, or prompt you to ask more questions.

Do not press for their contact details as they may wish to remain anonymous.

This is the end of International Fraud Awareness Week - thank you for reading our articles. If you would like more information, visit www.fraudweek.com and look out for #FraudWeek on social media.

To report suspected fraud to Veritau please complete the online http://veritau.co.uk/our-services/whistleblowing or phone 01904 552935 for a confidential discussion with one of our trained investigators.

 

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What is Mandate and Whaling Fraud?

Mandate fraud is when a person, who claims to represent a supplier, asks an organisation to change its bank transfer mandate into a different account  without the genuine supplier knowing about it. The new account is usually one held by the fraudster. This has been occurring nationally and some public sector organisations have lost substantial amounts of money as a result of this type of fraud.

Mandate fraud attempts occur via emails or phone calls, but most commonly by post.

A recent example of this is of a letter purporting to be from a construction company which had completed work for a council. The letter advised the council that the construction company’s bank account details had changed and asked the council to amend their records accordingly - meaning that any future payments from the council were sent to the fraudulent account instead.  The name ‘Darren Moore, Director of Finance’ is frequently associated with these Mandate fraud attempts.

Whaling fraud is a growing threat to local authorities and attempts have been detected in our region.  Unlike mandate fraud, specific people in an organisation will be targeted to try to extract money. 

A typical scenario involves a request from a senior member of staff (Chief Executive, Director of Finance etc...) asking for an urgent payment to be made.  Email addresses are faked so the communications appear genuine.  Fraudsters will also monitor social media to time their emails when senior members of staff are out of the office so making it harder for staff to verify the request. 

How can I spot these types of fraud and what can I do about it?

To try to spot and prevent this type of fraud:

  • Always review invoices to check for inconsistencies and obvious errors. Don’t assume a letter is genuine just because it comes in on correctly headed paper.

  • Treat unusual requests for payments extremely cautiously.  Always try to speak to the person face to face or by phone, rather than relying on email.

  • Always verify changes to financial arrangements with the organisation directly, using established contact details. 

  • If you are concerned about the source of a call, ask the caller to give you a main switchboard number for you to be routed back to them. Alternatively, hang up and call them back using established contact details.

  • Look closely at email addresses.  If you are unsure then right click on the address and select Outlook Properties.  If an email address has been spoofed then the actual email address will appear.

Who can I report fraud to?

If you suspect that you have been targeted by this type of fraud, please report this to Veritau on the Fraud Hotline on 01904 552935.

For more information on International Fraud Awareness Week, visit www.fraudweek.com and look out for  #FraudWeek on social media.

 

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Identity fraud is not just a mystery item purchased on your credit card in a foreign country. Public sector organisations are also at risk of identify fraud.

People using fictitious names or personal details may claim services and legitimate documents can be used to support a false identity—for example council tax bills in a false name.

The level of identity fraud is hard to measure as it’s often coupled with other crimes. So, it’s especially important that anyone dealing with original documents is mindful of this type of fraud.

Council departments are likely to have their own verification policies for authenticating original documents, but here are some simple checks that we’d recommend:

  • Is the font consistent? Are there any odd uses of bold or italics?

  • Are there fuzzy lines around any text boxes - which could suggest it has been photocopied?

  • Are the signatures consistent?

  • Is the handwriting consistent throughout?

  • Has it been completed in pencil?

  • Has the claimant filled in the most recent form?

  • Are figures correct (eg on wage slips)? Do salary changes reflect changes in the National Living Wage?

  • Does a letter from a doctor’s surgery look unfamiliar?

    If it looks a little out of the ordinary, it’s always worth enquiring a little deeper!

If you come across a suspicious-looking foreign document, the European Commission’s website has a useful catalogue of international identity documents, known as PRADO (Public Register of Authentic travel and identity Documents Online): http://www.consilium.europa.eu/prado/en/prado-start-page.html

If you have any concerns relating to original documents or possible identity fraud, please contact Veritau on 01904 552935

For more information on International Fraud Awareness Week, visit www.fraudweek.com and look out for #FraudWeek on social media.

 

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Whistleblowing is when an employee raises concerns about a colleague’s conduct or employers’ practices at work.

Most organisations have policies which allow employees to raise these concerns and whistleblowers are legally protected as long as the information they provide is considered to be in the public interest.

The following is a list of the typical issues which can be reported through whistleblowing channels:

  • Abuse of children and/or vulnerable adults (physical or psychological);

  • Health and safety risks, either to the public or other members of staff;

  • Any unlawful act (e.g. theft);

  • Unauthorised use of public funds (e.g. expenditure for improper purpose);

  • Any breach of the Employee Code of Conduct;

  • Maladministration (e.g. not adhering to procedures, negligence);

  • Failing to safeguard personal and/or sensitive information (data protection);

  • Damage to the environment (e.g. pollution);

  • Fraud and corruption (e.g. to give or receive any gift/reward as a bribe);

  • Abuse of position;

  • Poor value for money;

  • Other unethical conduct;

  • Any deliberate concealment of information regarding any of the above areas.

According to Public Concern at Work, an independent whistleblowing charity “often it is only through whistleblowing that this information comes to light and can be addressed before damage is done. Whistleblowing is a valuable activity which can positively influence all of our lives.”

For more information please visit http://www.pcaw.co.uk.

For more information on International Fraud Awareness Week, visit www.fraudweek.com and look out for #FraudWeek on social media.

If you work for one of our clients and want to raise a whistleblowing concern then phone 01904 552935 for a confidential discussion with one of our trained investigators.

 

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Today is the start of 2016 International Fraud Awareness Week!

Throughout this week, Veritau will be sharing examples of fraud risks - plus ways to spot and report suspected fraud.

At a time of financial challenge, fraud is estimated to cost local government £2.2 billion per year.   In the last few years Veritau has helped to save its council clients over £600,000, in areas such as Council Tax, Business Rates, Housing and Social Care.

Council staff are the frontline in preventing and detecting fraud, and we rely on and value their continued vigilance in helping to identify possible fraud.

During this week, we’ll highlight areas that are currently at risk from fraud, and how everyone can help tackle fraud.

If you would like any more information on International Fraud Awareness Week please visit http://www.fraudweek.com and look out for #FraudWeek on social media.

If you suspect fraud please complete the online form http://veritau.co.uk/contact-veritau/reporting-suspected-fraud or phone 01904 552935 for a confidential discussion with one of our trained investigators.

 

19 July 2016

Counter fraud experts Veritau are finalists for a prestigious national award for Excellence in Corporate Fraud.

The Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation awards recognise organisations that excel in fraud, and which display innovation and enterprise.

City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council worked together in 2009 to form Veritau which delivers counter fraud services to both authorities.  In 2012 Ryedale, Hambleton, Selby and Richmondshire District Council became members of the Veritau Group and, in addition, Veritau works for a number of local housing associations.

The team now investigates a wide range of fraud that affect its clients, having started out as a purely benefit fraud investigation service. Over the last three financial years, fraud investigations conducted by Veritau produced actual savings of over £500,000 for its clients as well as prosecuting 42 people, recovering 87 social housing properties, stopping 44 attempts to fraudulently gain social housing, and blocking 14 false applications for school placements.

Following a successful application for government fraud funding the team is currently undertaking cross-boundary data-matching exercises in York and North Yorkshire.

As a finalist in these awards, Veritau is recognised as one of the top fraud teams in country along with the two other finalists in the field of Excellence in Corporate Fraud – the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Oxford City Council.  The winner will be announced in October.

Cllr David Carr, Leader of City of York Council with responsibility for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, said: “I’m delighted that Veritau’s work to uncover, investigate and successfully prosecute fraud in the city is being recognised in this way. Not only that, but their partner working to limit the opportunity for fraud in the first instance, is commendable. I wish them all the best in the awards, and continued success for their work in York and North Yorkshire.”

Cllr Gareth Dadd, Deputy Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said: “This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when local authority partners work well together. The success of Veritau speaks for itself through the fruits of its investigations and the savings it has realised in only a few years. The team’s recognition in these national awards is well deserved and no doubt heralds further successes to come.”

 

 

Excellence in Corporate Fraud 2016

 

Veritau has been selected as a finalist in the Institute of Revenue Rating and Valuation (IRRV) annual awards under the ‘Excellence in Corporate Fraud’ category.  The winner will be announced at the IRRV annual conference which is being held in Telford in October 2016.

 

 

 

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Contact Us

York: 01904 552943
Northallerton: 01609 535034

Fax: 01904 552945
Email: contact us here

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