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Showing posts with label organised benefit fraud crime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organised benefit fraud crime. Show all posts

13 Feb 2020

Judge attacks lax monitoring of fraudulent benefits scheme

A benefit fraud scam in which women pretended to be cleaners at schools cost the taxpayer almost £1m, a court heard.

Ringleaders Mohamed Goth, 66, and Feisal Aw-Isse Sadi, 43, have been jailed for eight and five years in their absence respectively after fleeing the country.

And 21 women from Manchester's Somalian community were also in the dock, following five crown court trials and a prosecution which a judge estimated may have cost another £1m in lawyers' and translators' fees, as well as court time.

Manchester Crown Court heard that the women were employed as 'cleaners' at two schools set up on Claremont Road, in Rusholme.

Goth and Sadi were directors of Iftiin Educational and Skills Centre Ltd, set up in a converted terraced house, and Hilaal Child Care, also known as Sherwood Education and Training Centre, established in a former pub.

Up to 20 'cleaners' were employed at both sites, in a staff size which Judge Anthony Cross QC said would have been more fitting for Manchester town hall, rather than businesses in a 'two up two down' properties.

He said: "This was a cleaning staff that would probably equate to that employed at the town hall here in Manchester, yet no one until the fraud was rumbled seemed to have noticed this remarkable fact."

Despite this, environmental health staff were called out separately after there was found to be a 'pest infestation' in a kitchen area.

The judge said the officers found 'few if any cleaning materials'.

Instead of cleaning, the women would sit in a room waiting for their children to finish the lessons, where English, maths and science were taught by 'well meaning' but inexperienced young people, often just out of university.

The women would sometimes 'tidy up a little litter' or 'occasionally mop up a spillage', the court heard.

The scam allowed Goth and Sadi to generate tax credit and benefit claims, so that the pair could obtain 'wholly unrealistic' payments to their companies to the tune of about £870,000.

By finding this 'work', this meant that the women could move from claiming job seeker's allowance to working tax credits, and would make them entitled to other benefits including housing and council tax benefit.

By moving onto different benefits the women did not have to attend meetings or appointments associated with job seeker's allowance, the judge said.

"The real purpose was so that the conspiracy could trigger the entitlement to working tax credit," the judge said.

Over many months, the women claimed more benefits than they were entitled to, with some receiving more than £20,000.

Judge Cross said: "The allegation then and now was that approximately £1m of public funds had been defrauded. It would not be surprising if the conduct of Goth, Sadi and these women and the other defendants have cost the public in excess of £2m.

"These defendants lived in an area in which there is considerable deprivation, where over time public services have been eroded. It is simplistic to apply simple arithmetic to this complex problem, but what good might have been done with the money wasted by these women, by those in their community who are in need?

"My concern is that this fraud was so blatant and organised that others of its type are in existence in Manchester."

The judge called for an urgent investigation to be conducted by the authorities to establish whether there are similar frauds taking place currently.

He also raised concerns at an apparent lack of background checks on the teachers who worked at the school.

"It is difficult to understand how any inspector concerned who had the interests of children as their paramount consideration could give approval to this place as an educational establishment," the judge said. "It also defies belief that it was considered safe to let young children into these premises."

The fraud was uncovered by the Department for Work and Pensions after a 'random computer check'.

Goth, formerly of Howcroft Street, Bolton, now thought to be in Somalia, and Sadi, formerly of Dunworth Street, Rusholme, whose whereabouts are not known, were convicted of conspiracy to defraud and both received jail terms which will start if and when they are arrested.

All 21 women appeared in court for sentence on Tuesday afternoon.

The majority of the defendants had to sit in the area of court usually reserved for juries as the dock was already full.

All of the women, who live within Manchester's Somalian community, were spared jail and ordered to carry out unpaid work.

"This fraud must have been well known to those who frequented this place," the judge said. "I have no doubt that each woman believed that she was on to a good thing and was happy to let it continue."

The judge warned the women: "If you don't do the work, you will go to jail."

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15 Jul 2019

"Benefits bosses told me to ignore bogus claims"

She is a devoted grandmother who has spent almost three decades working on the front line of Britain's benefits system, driven by a desire to help the vulnerable people who depend on state help to make ends meet. (h/t Dave)

But today, the long-serving official – who had been looking forward to a quiet, well-earned retirement – has turned whistleblower, feeling compelled to speak out over a new 'epidemic' of fraudulent claims following the introduction of Universal Credit.

It is an issue that her bosses are well aware of, says the woman, who we shall call Susan. Yet instead of clamping down on the flagrant, wholesale abuse of taxpayers' money, benefits chiefs are turning a blind eye to the cheats – because they are running sacred of being targeted by Left-wing critics.

A spate of stories from the BBC, Guardian and Mirror earlier in the year claimed that the new system was causing hardship and poverty – but many of the reports have subsequently been debunked by The Mail on Sunday.

However, senior managers at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have told staff to approve applications for advanced payments even when the claims are obviously fake, the whistleblower says, for fear of attracting more negative headlines.

The woman, in her 50s, has come forward to this newspaper to expose the wrongdoing after becoming sickened at what she saw. With her voice quivering with barely controlled fury, she told us: 'In all the years I've worked there, the level of fraudulent claims has never been this high, and instead of preventing them, we're handing out the money and making it so easy.'

In a disturbing account that will shock every taxpayer, she revealed:


  • One man entered the names of three made-up children as Fish, Chips and Beans – yet still received his advance payment;
  • Some fraudsters fleece the taxpayer for as much as £1,500 a time in advance payments
  • Gangs of organised criminals are coercing vulnerable people into making fraudulent claims, then splitting the proceeds;
  • Senior officials admit that a large fraction of claims are bogus, but say stopping the fraud is not 'a priority'.

Even though there is a legal protection for whistleblowers, the official fears the backlash from her bosses and has asked that we do not use her real name.

Universal Credit was conceived by former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to combine six separate benefits – including Jobseeker's Allowance and Housing Benefit–- into one single, efficient monthly payment.

Despite fierce criticism from the Labour Party, it was introduced last year as a lynchpin of the Government's welfare reforms, to run in parallel with the existing benefits system. New claimants – or those whose circumstances change – now automatically go on to Universal Credit.

But in March, amid a tide of stories claiming that the new system was causing hardship, the current Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd lifted a cap on claiming benefits for more than two children and allowed claimants to be given advance payments to ease the transition.

Almost as soon as the rules were relaxed, Susan saw a sudden upsurge in bogus claims – many of them blatant. It seemed that the DWP, stung by the avalanche of adverse publicity, had decided to open the taps and let the money flow.

Susan learned just how widespread such fraud was in a mass telephone conference – known in the DWP as a 'Telekit'. Hundreds of staff listened in as the North of England's operations director for Universal Credit, Colin Stewart, addressed them about the issue.

'At each desk in the open plan office there were three or four of us huddled around a phone on speaker,' recalled Susan.

'When Mr Stewart mentioned the massive rise in fraud levels, everyone looked at each other – not so much in astonishment, but nodding, as if to say, 'I thought as much. I actually felt a bit pleased, because I thought that, at last, something would be done. But then he said it wasn't a priority to stop the payments going out ,which left everyone staring at each other open-mouthed.'

Senior officials claimed that, instead of stopping the money going out in the first place – which might cause hardship for genuine claimants – the strategy would be to pursue fraudsters once they had received the money.

However, the DWP has a woeful record in clawing back fake claims and bringing cheats to justice, with just five per cent of fraudsters going to jail in 2012.

Susan said that staff were told in the telephone conference that the fraud problem was worst in the North West and North East, but was spreading out across the country as people invented fictitious children and inflated their housing costs.

Susan said she did not think that was an accurate appraisal, explaining: 'My theory is that the fraud is actually nationwide but it's been picked up more quickly in the North because the staff in that area tend to be longer serving, whereas in the South East there's a huge turnover in DWP staff and not as much experience to draw upon. Me and my colleagues have been there for decades and we know the signs to look for.'

Even more concerning than the individual fraudsters were the reports aired during the telephone conference about gangs of criminals coercing vulnerable people to make bogus claims.

The staff were told that the gangs would approach people in pubs, ascertain they had their own bank account, then persuade them to apply for what they would describe as a 'free loan' from the DWP by claiming that they paid a huge amount in rent or had a large number of fictitious children.

Susan said: 'If the criminals help them with their claim, the crooks then take a percentage of the money that comes in. For example, some people are making claims for housing costs when in fact they live with their parents so they don't have any rent to pay.'

A number of Susan's colleagues flagged up their suspicions about claims they believed to be fraudulent and requested an 'inhibitor' – a stop on payments. However, they were stunned to have their request turned down by senior officials.

'We asked why and we were just told, 'it's politics,' ' said Susan.

'Basically there had been so many negative stories about people waiting weeks and months for their payments when Universal Credit was first rolled out, that the department has gone completely the other way.

'Some of those stories were genuine, some exaggerated, but this was absolute madness. Staff have been becoming increasingly frustrated for quite a while, especially when you bear in mind that people are receiving advances which are more than their monthly wage.

'There is nothing to stop someone making more than one claim, believe it or not, and one particular claimant has had multiple advances in a very short time.

'The highest I've heard of is £1,500 in one go, but if you said you had eight children and very high housing costs, the sky is the limit.

'We see these claims coming in but when we flag it up to senior management we are told directly to do nothing about stopping it 'because of the politics' involved.

'We do report them to the fraud team, but I've no idea what action is subsequently taken.

'We could stop an advance on the basis that we suspected a person had money in savings because the benefit is means-tested. However, staff have been directed not to do that in the last month.'

Susan explained how ridiculously simple it was to make a bogus claim. 'When you go on the website to make your first claim, it calculates what would be due to you and tells you when you will get your first payment, usually in a month's time. But it also gives you the option to ask for an advance payment which will come to you in just three working days – and before any of the details you submitted online are verified. You can't even open a bank account these days without presenting several forms of ID and proof of address, and yet people are having advances of up to £1,500 without any verification.

'The staff are well aware of it when these claims come through the system.'

The shameless nature of the fraud is, in some cases, entirely transparent, with no attempt at all made to come up with a convincing story.

She said: 'One man claimed his children were called 'Fish', 'Chips' and 'Beans'. In other cases the children's dates of birth were so close together it would be a medical impossibility for them to have the same mother. But the system does not reject such daft claims – the money gets paid into their account nevertheless.

'It may well be that these people will be the subject of legal or criminal action further down the line if they don't progress their claim, but maybe people feel there's a chance they might get away with it.'

The DWP has an abysmal record for clawing back ill-gotten gains and bringing cheats to book that gives little hope that the millions of misspent taxpayers' money will be recovered, even though staff were told at the teleconference that the number of fraud investigators will rise by 30 per cent. Figures released last year revealed that benefit fraud cost more than £3.8 billion – up £200 million on the year before – with about 5,000 people convicted.

Susan fears that because Universal Credit operates online with little of the human element, it leaves it more vulnerable to fraud.

She said: 'Under the old system, before Universal Credit we had something called a short-term benefit advance, which was at the discretion of an adviser to discuss how much the person needed, and then decide on an amount.

'It would usually be for about £50 or so – not the huge sums which are going out now. The figures are higher because Universal Credit replaces six benefits – including housing, which is the biggest.

'The trouble is the calculation is virtually instant, but it's based entirely on the information the claimant is putting in, which only gets verified at a later stage.'

A DWP spokesman said last night: 'Benefit fraud is a crime that diverts money from those who really need it and we are determined to catch the small minority who cheat the system.

'We remain vigilant to all forms of fraud and investigate, and prosecute, where appropriate.

'We are constantly refining our processes to ensure Universal Credit remains both accessible and secure, with those who need support getting it.'

Source

As we have repeatedly said here, the DWP is overwhelmed but wants to hide the problem from the public.

3 Jul 2019

Eleven charged with organised benefit fraud crime

Eleven people have been charged in connection with an investigation into an alleged £500,000 benefits scam and theft from homeless people.

The arrests follow dawn raids at seven properties in Blackburn as part of operation cactus, which is looking into the suspected fraudulent payment of disability benefits.

It is also looking at the alleged exploitation of vulnerable tenants with complex needs, through the control of their bank cards as well as the direct payment of universal credit and housing benefits into the bank accounts of home owners renting out their properties. Police said some of the alleged victims are homeless and have drug and alcohol misuse issues.

Four women and eight men were arrested during yesterday's raids and police have now confirmed that 11 of those have been charged.

Khalida Zarif, 49, of Preston New Road, Blackburn has been charged with conspiracy to defraud, theft and dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for self/another or cause/expose other to loss.

Sakib Zarif, 31, of Preston New Road, Blackburn, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud, theft and dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for self/another or cause/expose other to loss.

Faisal Zarif, 30, of Preston New Road, Blackburn, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud and dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for self/another or cause/expose other to loss.

Atif Zarif, 19, of Preston New Road, Blackburn, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud and dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for self/another or cause/expose other to loss.

Anisa Zarif, 24, of Preston New Road, Blackburn, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud and dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for self/another or cause/expose other to loss.

Fozia Zarif, 28, of Columbia Way, Blackburn, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud and dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for self/another or cause/expose other to loss.

David Neale, 51, of Kirby Road, Blackburn, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud and dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for self/another or cause/expose other to loss.

Anthony Preece, 46, of Shear Brow, Blackburn, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud and dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for self/another or cause/expose other to loss.

Mohammed Zarif, 59, of Redlam, Blackburn, has been charged with dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for self/another or cause/expose other to loss.

Patrick Leggat, 43, of Selbourne Street, Blackburn, and Mohammed Sadiq, 45, of Hollin Bridge Street, Blackburn, have both been charged with theft.

They have all been released on bail to appear at Blackburn Magistrates Court on July 18.

A 36-year-old woman, from Blackburn, arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and theft has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Source

27 Jun 2019

Police raids in £1/2m benefits fraud investigation

Twelve people have been arrested in connection with a large scale benefit scam following dawn raids across Blackburn this morning (Wednesday, June 26th). (h/t Dave)

A team of police officers arrested the four women and eight men at seven addresses in relation to the suspected fraudulent payment of around half a million pounds in disability benefits.

The action, codenamed ‘Operation Cactus’, is also looking at the alleged exploitation of vulnerable tenants with complex needs, through the control of their bank cards as well as the direct payment of universal credit benefits/ housing benefits into the bank accounts of home owners renting out their properties.

The investigation is being supported by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

The following are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and theft:

1) Four women aged 49, 21, 24 and 36 from Blackburn

2) Six men aged 31, 59, 30, 20, 52, 43 and two men aged 45, also from Blackburn.

They remain in police custody at this time.

DS Stu Peall from the East Division Exploitation Team said:
Today’s action is the culmination of months of work looking at not just benefit fraud but specifically a number of tenants, who are particularly vulnerable people suffering with drug and alcohol issues, potentially feeling coerced into signing over the payment of their benefits to the person or people they rent their property from. This means they never see or have ownership of the money they are entitled to. 
On top of this, some tenants have had their bank cards taken from them meaning they have had no access to cash they may need.
We think that this has been going on for some time and that there are more victims than we are aware of. If you think that you or a friend or family member could have been a victim of this kind of exploitation, please speak to us. We appreciate that you may feel apprehensive, concerned or scared to make contact but it is really important that you tell us what has happened.
Source

20 Mar 2019

£1m benefit fraud gang finally sentenced

Seven benefit assessors have now been sentenced to prison for a total of 17 years for their roles in housing benefit fraud which saw more than £1m stolen from three councils in London.

The assessors worked in the local authorities of Lambeth, Kingston, and Barking and Dagenham, creating false housing benefit claims over a period of six years and sending the funds to accounts they controlled.

Lambeth employee Menelik Cowan, one of the driving forces of the fraud, and six others, denied fraud but were convicted by a jury after a three-month trial at Southwark Crown Court.

Cowan was sentenced to six-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. He had diverted £293,147 from his employers over six years. Others received between three-and-a-half years' imprisonment and 18 months.

The gang would identify properties, collect details for false claims and create appointments for the fraudsters at the council.

They also approved false claims and used their systems to ensure council letters, which might have revealed their fraud, were not sent to the properties.

Money was sent into accounts controlled by money launderers who left the country before they could be charged.

The Crown Prosecution Service worked closely with investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions Serious and Organised Investigation Team to bring the prosecution.

Ben Reid, of the CPS, said: “These council-employed assessors were trusted to look after badly needed public money meant to help people find somewhere to live. Instead they corrupted the systems and sent over one million pounds to money launderers in the criminal underground.

“During their trial they said they had no idea the claims were false and that they were simply processing papers given to them by their managers. However, the CPS prosecution showed the jury messages between them and their co-conspirators planning the whole thing.

“They have now been convicted by the jury and these public funds are safely out of their hands.”

A timetable for proceeds of crime hearings will now be set out where the CPS will seek to recover any outstanding assets.

It's all so slow.

Menelik Cowan pleaded guilty to one offence of fraud by abuse of positon and one offence of possession of false identity documents with intent. He was then convicted of five further offences of fraud by abuse of position after trial. The value of his offending is £293,147. He was imprisoned for six-and-a-half years.

Hugh Small pleaded guilty to one offence of entering into or being concerned in a money laundering arrangement. He was then convicted of one further offence of fraud by abuse of position after trial. The value of his offending is £112,983. He was imprisoned for three-and-a-half years.

Rahel Asfaha was convicted after trial of eight offences of fraud by abuse of position, worth £181,872. Imprisoned for two-and-a-half years.

Alex Williams was convicted after trial of one offence of fraud by abuse of position worth £240,345. Imprisoned for three-and-a-half years.

Cassandra Johnson was convicted after trial of three offences of fraud by abuse of position worth £106,834. Imprisoned for 18 months.

Jessica Bartley was convicted after trial of one offence of fraud by abuse of position worth £71,600. Imprisoned for 18 months, suspended for 18 months, and given 200 hours unpaid work.

Natasha Francis was convicted after trial of one offence of entering into or being concerned in a money laundering arrangement worth £2,868. 18-month community order, and 200 hours unpaid work.

Donna Francis was convicted after trial of one offence of entering into or being concerned in a money laundering arrangement worth £8,323.43. 12-month community order.

Derrick Williams was convicted after trial of two offences of entering into or being concerned in a money laundering arrangement worth £14,168.03. Imprisoned for 15 months, suspended for 18 months.

Source

6 Mar 2019

Another community conspiring on benefit fraud

After Rotherham, now Sheffield.

A large proportion of families within Sheffield’s Roma community are being exploited to lie about their children being ill to get higher benefit payments, says the council.

Sheffield Council is working with the Department of Work and Pensioners (DWP) and GPs to increase awareness of “fabricated illnesses”.

Council chiefs say gangs are encouraging parents to not only commit fraud but also exploit children.

A council report says:
There is work with partners to ensure an appropriate response to the exploitation of Roma families. It has been noted that there is a large proportion of families within the Roma community who are being exploited to fabricate illnesses within their children to obtain higher benefit payments. This has resulted in greater links with the DWP and the safeguarding GP, who has increased awareness of the health policy around fabricated illness. This allows partners to refer to the GP under the protocol to ensure a more appropriate response to the issue to try to reduce instances of fabricated illness in children within the Roma community.
Coun Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said it was unclear how widespread the problem was.
We are concerned about gangs working with parents to encourage them to defraud the DWP and our officers are really clamping down on this illegal activity. The fraud is bad enough but there is also serious exploitation of children. There seems to be a variety of illnesses and we are working with schools as we rely on their judgement when parents tell them their child is ill.
The council’s Multi Agency Support Teams (MAST) struggled to work with Roma families because of the fraud.

The report adds:
MAST have been engaging with partners to address this as many of the referrals into the service were as a result of this issue, which prevented effective work on other issues that the families were facing. 
The DWP said it did not comment on ongoing fraud operations but says it works closely with local authorities as a matter of course to tackle benefit fraud in all its forms.

Source

I wonder how much this organised benefit fraud is costing us...?

4 Mar 2019

Community action on benefit fraud!

Police, council and government officials teamed up to smash a suspected criminal ring responsible for illegally claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds in benefits.

“A local tight-knit community” across four neighbouring streets in Holmes were found to be claiming an “extremely high” number of benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) would not reveal how many suspects had been investigated or arrested but police said at least 20 of those identified had led to spin-off investigations for other offences, including several relating to drugs found in their homes.

A total of £250,000 was said to have been recovered by the multi-agency Operation Holmes.

The homes implicated in the alleged scam include “numerous” empty houses for which housing benefits were being claimed and paid out, as well as houses with multiple occupancy and cases of false identity.

It's easy, isn't it. There are far too many claims for each one to be subject to even cursory checks.

A DWP spokeswoman said personal independence payment, carer’s allowance and housing benefits were all found to have been claimed fraudulently.

Details of the operation — which was carried out last October by South Yorkshire Police, the DWP and Rotherham Borough Council officers — have only emerged after the police announced they had won the Partners Award at the Government Fraud Awards 2019, which recognises the work being done to protect public funds in the UK.

It's always been likely that a blitz of local investigations would turn up more benefit fraud than had been suspected - a result that national government would find politically inconvenient.

A police spokeswoman said:
A local tight-knit community were sharing knowledge in order to submit successful, but false benefits claims. The teams were able to gather and develop intelligence, seize evidence and take joint partnership action. Over 20 of the cases identified have also led to investigations with intelligence gathering, border control checks and decision making under way.
The DWP spokeswoman said:
Benefit fraud is a crime that diverts money from those who really need it and we are determined to catch the small minority who cheat the system. We worked closely with Rotherham Borough Council and South Yorkshire Police to target the fraudulent claims, saving the taxpayer over £250,000.
It's unclear what this £250,000 figure means. £250,000 a year? That's a considerable leakage of money just from one small area.

She added that investigations were ongoing and could not give any further details on exactly how many people were thought to be involved with the fraud claims and what further action was being taken.

If you suspect somebody is committing benefit fraud, please visit the Direct Gov website: https://www.gov.uk/report-benefit-fraud or call the National Benefit Fraud Hotline: 0800 854 440.

Source

3 Aug 2018

Glasgow police target large scale benefit fraud

Homes and businesses have been raided in Glasgow as part of a major crackdown on "industrial scale" benefit fraud.

Police said Operation Arnos, which targeted addresses in Govanhill, led to 16 arrests and the seizure of over 200 productions from a business.

More than 100 officers were joined by staff from the Department of Work and Pensions, HM Revenue & Customs, and Home Office Immigration Enforcement.

An organised crime group is behind the fraud, which could be as much as £4.6m.

Police said the first phase targeted members of the crime gang while the second focused on the facilitators.

The force confirmed 14 individuals were arrested on suspicion of benefit fraud, mortgage fraud and money laundering.

A woman was arrested on warrant and a man was arrested in connection with a cannabis cultivation, which included several hundred plants with a potential street value of about £200,000.

Fraudulent documentation was also recovered from a vehicle which had been used as a mobile office.

Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald said the offensive has been planned since late last year:
Today's operation is the largest of its kind since Police Scotland came into being. Quite simply it is targeting organised crime in one of our local communities here in Govanhill. What we are dealing with today is an almost industrial scale benefit fraud, an attack on the UK benefits system by an organised crime group.
Assistant Chief Constable MacDonald said the group had been active for some time:
This gang has been operating in and around Govanhill using local premises and a mobile office to carry out a variety of crimes, which are undoubtedly impacting on the local community. People have been claiming benefits to which they are not entitled and using false IDs but this activity has been orchestrated by individuals who are reaping millions of pounds from the benefits system while also claiming benefits themselves. We fully expect there will be more arrests as a result of this operation over the coming weeks and months.
Officers are also looking for evidence of people trafficking and illegal immigration.

A total of 37 premises were visited on Wednesday and a number searched.

The haul of more than 200 productions from a business in Govanhill included documentation and electronic devices.

Officers attended a number of addresses intending to speak to residents claiming housing benefit but several had clearly been empty for a prolonged period.

Clearly the checking to stop taxpayers' cash being wasted isn't up to much.

To date about £1.5m of fraudulent benefit claims have already been stopped

Bob Gallacher, senior investigations leader at the DWP, warned this type of criminality is occurring in cities throughout the UK.

And Joe Hendry, assistant director of HMRC's Fraud Investigation Service, said:
This is suspected benefit fraud on a massive scale. Benefit fraud is theft - it takes taxpayers' money from our vital public services and puts it into the pockets of criminals. We will continue working with our partners to investigate and stop these offences.

Source

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