19 February 2018
Tenancy fraud awareness week has come around again.
If someone. . . .
- Sublets or abandons a council or housing association property
- Provides false information when applying for housing
- Tries to purchase through Right To Buy when they are not entitled
- Lies to gain succession on a property
- Accepts payments to exchange properties
Please click the links below for more information.
|Tenancy Fraud Awareness Week||Tenancy Fraud Poster|
19 January 2018
Thirsk couple sentenced for social care fraud
A serious fraud detected by the council helped secure a successful prosecution with a couple from Thirsk each being sentenced to two years in prison.
A couple, aged 65 and 68, were found by City of York Council fraud and adult social care officers to have failed to declare £210,000. This should have gone towards the nursing care for the woman's mother, which the council was paying for.
Both had power of attorney for the mother who currently lives at a private nursing home paid for by City of York Council. These payments were on the understanding that when the mother’s home was sold, profits from it would repay the council and, depending on any remaining surplus, would continue to fund her care.
The couple sold the mother’s former home in York in January 2015 for £216,000. However, the sale was discovered by the council some 18 months later by which time the couple had spent £160,000 of this.
The council referred the case to North Yorkshire Police which worked with the council’s income, adult safeguarding and fraud investigation teams.
During the course of the investigation the couple were arrested and interviewed under caution by the police. They both plead guilty to offences of fraud by abuse of position.
They were sentenced on Friday 19 January at Teeside Crown Court. Following the sentencing, proceedings will begin by the Crown Prosecution Service to recover the stolen money.
Councillor David Carr, leader of City of York Council, said: "This demonstrates how the police and council work closely together to address fraud.
31 January 2018
First prosecution from crackdown on blue badge misuse
The first person found to be fraudulently using parking services reserved for disabled people during a council campaign, was prosecuted yesterday (30 January 2018).
Council civil enforcement officers and Veritau, the company that investigates fraud on behalf of the council, offered a two-week amnesty in July for the return of expired badges which allow use of these services without question, or fear of legal action being taken.
Once the amnesty passed, proactive ‘enforcement patrols’ were carried across York in August and November. Enforcement officers and investigators checked badges on display to confirm that they were still valid, that the badge holder was present and using the badge. Where misuse was found, penalty charges were issued as well as criminal investigations instigated.
The first person found to be misusing a blue badge by these patrols has been prosecuted at York Magistrates Court.
A car was found in Piccadilly car park on 3 August 2017 displaying the driver’s late husband’s blue badge. The driver had parked fraudulently in a disabled bay and had therefore evaded paying parking charges.
Veritau investigators found that the badge holder had died and a penalty charge notice was issued to the driver who claimed she had correctly displayed her blue badge.
When interviewed under caution the driver admitted that it was her late husband’s badge that she had displayed. She claimed that she had been blocked in when parking elsewhere earlier in the day and that she kept the invalid badge in her car.
Pleading guilty to all charges at the Magistrates Court, she was sentenced to a £100 fine and ordered to pay a court surcharge of £30 and court costs of £349.40.
Councillor David Carr, leader of City of York, said, “The council is committed to tackling all forms of fraud. The blue badge scheme is for people with mobility problems. Misuse impacts on the limited capacity of parking available for legitimate disabled users who have little or no choice about how they get about."
A blue badge should be handed back to the council if:
- It has expired
- The badge holder is no longer eligible to use one
- It is a replacement for a badge lost or stolen and the original has since been found
- The badge is so damaged or faded that the details are not clear
- The badge holder has died.
Blue badge fraud is a problem across the UK and is thought to cost the country £46 million a year. Someone found misusing a blue badge faces prosecution and a £1,000 fine.
30 January 2018
Council uncovers four-year Council Tax fraud
An investigation into council tax discounts has led to the discovery and prosecution of a long-running case of fraud which defrauded the public purse of £1,172.
A forty four year old man incorrectly claimed a single person discount on his council tax payments for four years. An investigation was conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, which found that another two adults were living at the property and that the Single Person Discount claim was fraudulent.
During the investigation the man was interviewed under caution and admitted that he had had a couple of adults living with him at his property since 2013. He said that he had made a false statement during a Single Person Discount review, and had failed to declare changes to his household to the council. He had received a discount of £1,172.08 against his council tax bill to which he was not entitled.
He pleaded guilty to all charges at York Magistrates Court on 30 January 2018 and was sentenced to pay a fine of £430.00. Besides repayment arrangements, he was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £45.00 and court costs of £450.00.
26 January 2018
2018 Shortlist - Public Finance Innovation Awards | Public Finance Innovation Awards
We are delighted to reveal the 2018 Public Finance Innovation Awards shortlist. Hard work, innovation and dedication to pushing boundaries of excellence within the profession and industry characterised this year’s entries, our distinguished judges agreed.
28th November 2017
Ryedale District Council uncovers £6,000 fraud
An investigation carried out by Ryedale District Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a serious case of fraud in the town, which deprived the public purse of almost £6,000.
A female of Firthland Road, Pickering, claimed Council Tax Support and a Single Person’s Discount as a single person for many years. An investigation into her claims was conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, following information that she had an undeclared partner living with her and that her claim was fraudulent.
During the course of the investigation the woman was interviewed under caution and admitted that her partner had lived with her since 2011 and that she hadn’t declared this to the council.
The investigation concluded with her pleading guilty to all charges at Scarborough Magistrates Court on 28th November 2017.
As a result of her fraudulent activity she was awarded £4,514.37 in Council Tax Reduction. She also received a discount of £1,265.40 against her council tax bills that she was not entitled to.
She was sentenced to a 12 month community order with a requirement to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay £150 towards the council’s legal costs.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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. 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.
 Reported by the Chartered Institute of Housing
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.
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.
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.