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Be alert to vaccine fraud

We’re supporting a campaign by the Government Counter Fraud Profession and NHS Counter Fraud Authority to combat so-called vaccine fraud.

Covid-19 vaccination programmes have opened up new opportunities for fraudsters. People have received text messages and phone calls appearing to come from the NHS, letting them know they’re eligible for the vaccine.

Beware of scammers: NHS fraud poster on Covid 19 vaccine fraud - click to open PDF

Business rates fraud - IFAW 2020

What is business rates fraud?

Business rates fraud – also called non-domestic rate (NDR) fraud – is when businesses attempt to gain relief or exemptions from business rates that they’re not entitled to.

Rates are worked out based on the ‘rateable value’ which is set by the Valuation Office Agency. There are many reliefs and exemptions available, including small business rates relief, which means businesses under a certain+ rateable value pay no business rates.

Social care fraud - IFAW 2020

Social care fraud isn’t the type of crime that springs to mind when the word ‘fraud’ is mentioned, but it’s one of the fastest growing risks to the public purse.

Fraud in adult social care has gained more traction in recent years. However it’s still a relatively unexplored area. Knowledge within the public sector is on the increase and several high profile prosecutions have helped to raise awareness, but there is more work to be done.

Fraud team shortlisted for national award

We're pleased to announce that our counter fraud team has been shortlisted for a Tackling Economic Crime Award (TECA) for the second year in a row!

Sponsored by Cifas, the UK’s leader in fraud prevention, the awards recognise those working to combat economic crime and provide an opportunity for outstanding performers in the field to be recognised. We are proud to be nominated alongside teams from Trading Standards, the NHS Counter Fraud Authority and HMRC.

Phishing and its risks - cyber security month

This Cyber Security Awareness Month, we're looking into some key cyber risks affecting local government in 2020.

What is phishing?

Phishing is when cybercriminals attempt to trick you into giving away information. This usually occurs via email but can also be received on a text message, by phone, letter, or through social media. The information they ask for might let them gain access to bank accounts, install malware, or steal data.

Micro grants scheme: using data analytics to find fraud and error

Our data analyst Ben completed some work a couple of weeks ago for one of Veritau’s council clients.

The project involved finding fraud and error in the micro grants scheme, which makes grants of up to £1,000 available to businesses who are not eligible for other Covid-19 business support. Micro grants allow these businesses to adapt to current circumstances, eg installing remote working equipment.

Internal Audit Awareness Month - What is internal audit?

It’s Internal Audit Awareness Month! Yes, they really do get a whole month. Normally, May would be the month of great relief for our internal auditors, as it means that ‘year end’ has finished. As we all know, this year things have been a little bit different. 

We’re aiming to raise awareness of internal audit through a series of posts exploring what audit is, where it came from and why it’s important. 

Does fraud happen in schools?

When you think of fraud, a school environment doesn't usually come to mind. But no-one is immune from the risks. Unfortunately school fraud can and does occur.

This could be from internal or external parties. In this post we discuss a few key areas of school fraud, and the importance of holding fraud awareness sessions with staff.

Types of fraud risk

Blue Badge prosecution

A recent Blue Badge fraud case investigated by Veritau has resulted in a successful prosecution. 

In August 2019, a visitor from Middlesbrough was found to be misusing his relative’s badge in York city centre. The case was investigated by Veritau’s fraud team and prosecuted by City of York Council.

The case was heard at York Magistrates’ Court on 28 January 2020. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a fine and costs totalling £700.

What are the three lines of defence?

Debunking terminology: the three lines of defence in internal audit

As internal auditors, we can be guilty of using our own specialist terminology. To those outside the field can be seen as technical jargon. Over a series of short articles we’re be attempting to debunk one of the most important audit ideas – the three lines of defence. 

The first line of defence

As part of a series debunking internal audit terminology, we're looking at the three lines of defence. 

The third line defence is defined by the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors defines the first line of defence as "functions that own and manage risk". Ensuring that the first line is functioning effectively and efficiently is vital to prevent or reduce the likelihood that things will go wrong for an organisation.

Veritau is expanding

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and Middlesbrough Council are set to join the Veritau group. 

Veritau was established in 2009, initially as a partnership between City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council, and expanded in 2012 when a number of district councils joined the group. Veritau now provides internal audit, counter fraud and information governance services to over 500 public sector clients in the region.

Saltburn pier

Prosecution for Blue Badge misuse

A woman in York has pleaded guilty to misusing a relative’s disabled badge to illegally park in York city centre.

The case was referred to Veritau in June 2019 by a member of City of York Council’s parking team who spotted a van parked on double yellow lines at Castlegate, displaying a blue badge. Veritau investigated the case and found that the driver had used the Blue Badge to park illegally.

Selby District Council’s first prosecution of council home subletter

An investigation carried out on behalf of Selby District Council has led to the council’s first prosecution for illegal subletting under social housing legislation.

A man living in York previously held a council tenancy in Tadcaster between 2011 and 2017. An anonymous referral was received by the council that he had been unlawfully subletting his council property after moving to York in 2015. 

Landmark social care case

A huge achievement for our counter fraud team.

The first social care fraud prosecuted by Veritau and City of York Council has reached its conclusion in court. A man from York has been given a 20 month suspended sentence, 80 hours of unpaid work and an order to pay the council more than £1,100 in costs, for a fraud depriving the public purse of over £86k.

Business rates scam

A business rates scam has been doing the rounds again, targeting empty business premises. The scam sees someone register themselves as liable for business rates with the local authority, and pay the bill with a stolen credit card. The fraudster applies with a fake name and company, but they will sometimes register with Companies House to make it seem more legitimate.

10 years as a senior investigator - what's changed?

Jane has been a senior investigator for almost 10 years. She started with a small team that has grown significantly, and the work has diversified into many new fraud areas. The counter fraud team investigates 10 different types of fraud and no two days are the same. Jane started working at City of York Council in 2000 as a benefit assessor and moved to their fraud team in 2002.

Using data analytics to fight fraud

Ben, the fraud team’s data analytics specialist, has been with Veritau for five years. A large part of his job is working with specialist software IDEA, computer aided auditing tool that allows a trained user to analyse large and complex sets of data. Ben was given a lot of independence with the software to explore how it worked and how Veritau could develop this area to provide greater assurance.

Veritau shortlisted for prestigious award

Veritau has been announced as a finalist at the Tackling Economic Crime Awards (TECAs) 2019. Sponsored by Cifas, the UK’s leader in fraud prevention, the awards recognise those working to combat economic crime and provide an opportunity for outstanding performers in the field to be recognised. We are proud to be nominated alongside teams from HMRC, the Cabinet Office and Serious Fraud Office.

Tackling Economic Crime Awards - Finalist

Risk in focus

Identifying, assessing and managing risks to objectives is vital for the success of any organisation. The speed of change within organisations and in the wider external environment means organisations need to be alert to the most significant risks they face.

The Institute of Internal Auditors has recently completed its annual business risk survey of heads of internal audit. Whilst this survey focuses on businesses the results are applicable to organisations across all sectors.

Auditing with data analytics and IDEA

The concept of auditing can be traced back to early civilisations. In ancient Egypt, cargo being brought off ships was independently checked and reported to the authorities. Over time the internal audit function has adapted and evolved as a result of changes in the size and functions of organisations, legislation and the implementation of new technologies.

Veritau to launch Cyber Security Awareness Week

Veritau will shortly be launching its Cyber Security Awareness Week. The campaign will highlight the risks and challenges organisations face in the digital age. With several high profile cyber incidents in the news recently we all need to be alert to the risks we face.

The fraud team have been working with our Communications Officer to prepare messages and infographics for the week. Cyber Security Awareness Week will be from 9 - 13 September.

Cyber Security Awareness Week

Internal Audit Awareness Month

Internal Audit Awareness Month begins today, which celebrates and promotes the profession of Internal Auditors (yes, they get a whole month of glory!). The Institute of Internal Auditors, who run the campaign, aim to dispel some common misconceptions of the audit profession, raise awareness of internal audit, and enhance people's knowledge of the essential role it plays.

What is internal audit?

Group of five sentenced for stealing over £60,000 from elderly York resident

An investigation carried out by City of York Council and North Yorkshire Police has successfully prosecuted five individuals who stole £61,980 from an elderly resident in York. The investigation involving North Yorkshire Police and Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, began following concern the victim was being financially influenced. The investigation was conducted following the victim’s request for a social

Richmond fraudster prosecuted

A fraudster who took more than £1500 in council tax support he wasn’t entitled to was successfully prosecuted this week.

Following an investigation carried out by Veritau on behalf of Richmondshire District Council the fraudster was ordered to repay the cash – and undertake unpaid work.

The cost of tenancy fraud #TFAW2019

Tenancy fraud cost the UK over £216 million in 2018. This includes £55 million lost through the subletting of council and social housing tenancies, and £92 million lost through fraudulent Right to Buy applications. A social housing property being misused directly affects individuals and families who are waiting on the housing list, and in genuine need.

Mental health in the workplace

An organisation’s most important resource is usually its people so their wellbeing should be a key priority. According to the Benenden Mental Health in the Workplace report, seven in 10 employees have suffered from a condition related to mental health. 

However, many organisations do not have mental health policies or actively engage with their employees on mental health issues. Fewer than one in 10 employees said they would confide in their employer if they were suffering from a mental health condition.

Workplace photo

Veritau feature in Institute of Risk Management

Veritau’s risk management service has been featured in a recent case study published by the Institute of Risk Management. 

The Institute of Risk Management is the leading professional body for risk management and is internationally recognised for providing quality risk management education. Four of our auditors hold the International Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management qualification, with one of these officers continuing onto the Diploma stage.

Malton woman prosecuted for council tax fraud

A female living in Malton has been successfully prosecuted by Ryedale District Council. The woman had claimed Council Tax Reduction since 2013, based on her family’s low income. However, she failed to notify Ryedale District Council that she was working as a self employed cleaner in 2015 and again in 2016. She also failed to declare that her husband had started self employment early in 2014.

Single Person Discount data match prosecution

Richmondshire District Council’s fraud team has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a serious case of fraud which deprived the public purse of over £2,000.

This was the first case of its kind to be discovered through a data matching exercise conducted by the council’s fraud provider, Veritau. The exercise compared records from multiple sources and revealed that a second individual was linked to a property which had been declared as being occupied by a sole adult.

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