Council counter-fraud officers will be out taking part in a week of action as part of International Fraud Awareness week (12-18 November).
Throughout the week, officers from the council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT), Barnet Homes, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Insurance and Licensing teams will be carrying out a range of activities to raise awareness around the impact of fraud and other crime, what to look out for, and how to report it.
It is estimated that the cost of fraud nationally to local authorities is around £2.1billion every year.
Barnet’s dedicated counter-fraud team, CAFT, work to protect the public purse and detect, disrupt and investigate those intent on committing fraud.
The team investigates a range of fraud, from people making false applications for council support, to illegally subletting their council homes, attempts to commit right to buy fraud, and drivers committing fraud by misusing blue badge disabled parking permits.
Last year the council’s counter-fraud team carried out more than 550 fraud investigations, resulting in more than 100 prosecutions or other sanction such as issuing a caution.
The team’s tenancy fraud work led to the keys to 62 council homes being handed back.
With these properties re-let to people in genuine need of housing, it is estimated this has saved the taxpayer £9.3million. This is based on the equivalent average cost of building a new social housing unit being £150,000.
In the same year, CAFT officers scuppered 16 fraudulent attempts to make right to buy applications.
During Fraud Awareness Week officers will have an information stand at Middlesex University between 10am-1pm on 15 November, and then will be at the Broadwalk Shopping Centre in Edgware on 17 November between 10am-4pm. Officers will be raising awareness of fraud, crime prevention and will be on hand to explain the role of CAFT.
Council Leader, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: “Our fraud investigators work very hard to investigate and disrupt those intent on committing fraud. The significant amount of fraud being detected each year shows just how important the work of counter-fraud officers is in protecting the public purse.
“It is very important that this money goes into providing services and not to those intent on cheating the system.
“International Fraud Awareness Week is a good opportunity for people to understand the impact of fraud and what we can do to tackle it.
“If anyone suspects a fraud is being committed I would urge them to report it straight away.”
You can report a fraud online or call our fraud hotline on 020 8359 2007.