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.
A woman in Richmond claimed Single Person Discount at her property for six years in her daughter’s name. An investigation into the discount was conducted by Veritau, following the data matching exercise that showed the discount was in her daughter’s name, but she was paying the council tax bill.
During the course of the investigation, officers carried out a visit to the property where the woman admitted to have been living there for around five years, while still claiming Single Person Discount in her daughter’s name and purporting to be living in another area of the country.
The woman was interviewed under caution and admitted to the offence of fraud, stating that she forged her daughter’s signature on the form and fraudulently claimed that her daughter lived there alone, in order to receive the 25% discount.
The investigation concluded with the defendant pleading guilty to all charges at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court on Monday 30 July.
As a result of her fraudulent activity she received a discount of £2,177.99 on her council tax bill that she was not entitled to.
She was sentenced to pay a fine of £272. Besides repayment arrangements, she was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and court costs of £395, totalling £697.
Councillor Linehan said: "Fraud against Richmondshire District Council deprives council services, which support our entire community, of much needed funding. We are now employing new and innovative techniques to identify where fraud is occurring and we won’t hesitate to take strong action where appropriate. We encourage anyone with any information on fraudulent activity to phone the fraud hotline on 0800 9179 247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org."