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May 15, 2020

The organisation behind the national Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Strategy sets out threats and counter measures

Nick Downing, Chief Intelligence Officer at Cifas, the national fraud authority, told CLGdotTV about new opportunities presented by the Covid-19 crisis that have fraudsters ‘rubbing their hands’.

Previously Assistant Chief Constable of Kent & Essex, and the national policing lead for financial investigation and proceeds of crime, Downing says that in normal times fraud amounts to as much as one third of all reported crime.

Local authorities are subject to fraud like any other organisation, with areas like procurement and social housing at the top of the list.

Councils are being encouraged to distribute grants to SMEs quickly, for good reason, but with limited resources, mistakes will be made, says Downing. In response, Cifas is providing general advice – for example payment by cheque should be avoided – but is also opening up its fraud database for use by councils during the crisis.

This will allow them to check applicant data against Cifas records of known frauds - provided by banks, insurance companies and other local authorities – to see if red flags are raised around any individuals and organisations making claims. Positive data matches from local authority submissions are currently running at between 3% and 10%, says Downing.