In all, nine cases of tenancy fraud, totalling an estimated £695,000, have been stopped after a crackdown by Wolverhampton Council’s counter-fraud team, in four months
As reported by Thomas Parkes in the Wolverhampton Express and Star, illegal sub-lettings, fraudulent right-to-buy applications and social housing application frauds were uncovered by the team.
Other frauds and potential frauds detected involved those where owners tried to pass the property on to a relative, or failing to hand over keys, were also detected.
These all came to light between April and July this year, a report by the counter-fraud team revealed.
In total around 150 instances of suspected fraud were investigated by the team. A Council spokesperson said that action would be taken to recover all the stolen money as part of a “zero-tolerance” policy.
The crackdown is part of a central Government funded HMRC pilot scheme to tackle crime in the housing sector.
The report to the council’s Audit and Risk Committee says:
“The counter-fraud team is continuing to develop and lead in raising fraud awareness across the council and in promoting an anti-fraud culture.
“The team carries out investigations into areas of suspected or reported fraudulent activity.
“It also organises a series of council wide pro-active fraud activities, including the targeted testing of areas open to the potential of fraudulent activity.
“The council was selected by the Cabinet Office as one of only 10 local authorities to take part in a pilot National Fraud Initiative (NFI) exercise where HMRC data has been matched to the council’s data for the first time.
“HMRC hold information about household composition, household earnings and property ownership.
“A sample of matches were investigated with the majority relating to tenancy issues.
“The counter-fraud team has provided feedback to the Cabinet Office which has been used to help refine the matches and to ensure the maximum impact is achieved from the exercise.”
A spokesman for Wolverhampton Council said: “The city of Wolverhampton Council operates a zero-tolerance policy on fraud and will not hesitate to take action as appropriate.
“We are pleased to be a key partner in this National Fraud Initiative data matching exercise because, ultimately, fraud against the council is fraud against the hard-working taxpayers of Wolverhampton.”