Monday, 4 November 2013

Help Stamp Out Fraud During Awareness Week

Residents are being urged to report their suspicions to help combat fraud during an international week long campaign dedicated to raising awareness, detection and prevention.

Over the last four years nearly £700,000 of fraud has been identified by South Cambridgeshire District Council investigators, with just over 100 cases successfully prosecuted and financial penalties and cautions imposed in a further 129 cases.

Councillors are urging communities to unite during Fraud Awareness Week and step forward with suspicions so investigators can track down the minority who continue to make fraudulent claims.

Tip-offs from the public are an important part of combating fraud and the Council has a free-phone telephone number and web forms to enable reports to be made. It only takes a few minutes and could provide crucial information that enables a fraudster to be caught.

It is estimated that the public sector loses a staggering £20.6 billion annually to fraud. The majority of this is lost in the tax system, but around £4 billion relates to claims for support local councils are responsible for including housing benefit and council tax.

Investigators can detect fraud in a number of ways including matching data with other public bodies and working with partner agencies such as the Department for Work and Pensions and the Police. The Council also have powers to demand information from banks and employers where necessary and can conduct surveillance in serious cases.

Cllr Simon Edwards, cabinet member for finance, said: “Fraudsters rely on honest people not reporting their suspicions so it is important that we all unite to tackle the problem. The vast majority of people who claim benefits are honest and need the support, but anyone cheating the system needs to remember that they could face up to ten years in prison as well as hefty fines. You can report your suspicions anonymously and the more information you can provide the easier it will be for us to investigate.”

If you suspect fraud please report it by visiting www.scambs.gov.uk and then clicking on the ‘report it’ button, by emailing benefitfraud@scambs.gov.uk, or by calling the dedicated fraud hotline on 0800 7311 892. This can be done anonymously.

To report a change in circumstance or discuss a benefit claim call 03450 450 061.

International Fraud Awareness week runs until Saturday 9 November and more information can be found by visiting www.fraudweek.com/