An anti-fraud scheme has detected or prevented more than £2bn of fraud since it was launched 25 years ago.

An anti-fraud scheme run by the Cabinet Office has detected or prevented more than £2bn of fraud since it was launched 25 years ago, helping to protect public money and put fraudsters behind bars.

The National Fraud Initiative (NFI) plays a critical role in identifying people trying to defraud the public sector, ensuring taxpayers’ money goes towards delivering vital services, instead of ending up in the wrong hands.

Since it was established in 1996, the NFI has helped public bodies prevent more than £300m of Council Tax discount scams, £370m of housing benefit fraud, almost £850m of pension payments being made in error and has taken more than 183,000 fraudulently claimed disabled parking badges out of circulation.

The work being done by the NFI to keep fraudsters out of the public purse has recently been recognised by the UK Fintech Awards, where they picked up Data Initiative of the Year for their industry-leading use of data.

NHS IT Manager Case study

Data matching enabled by the NFI identified an IT manager working for a hospital trust who was also a sole director of two shell companies.

The directorships had not been declared so an investigation by the Local Counter Fraud Specialist (RSM), the NHS Counter Fraud Authority and HMRC followed.

Investigations revealed that the employee had filed non-trading accounts for both companies during their existence. However, he then produced fraudulent invoices, all under his own £7,500 authorisation limit, and sent them by email from his fictional employees, to obtain £674,000 from the trust.

He even added VAT of £132,000 to make the invoices more plausible. A dismissal and prosecution followed and he was sentenced to five years and four months imprisonment. Confiscation proceedings are underway to try to recover the funds.

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