Doncaster Council unable to recover money lost by fraudsters after bank details scam

editorial image

Doncaster Council fell foul to criminals after scammers managed to change the bank details of a supplier to their own.  

Documents, which are set to be presented to the audit committee next Thursday (October 25), show the council was unable to recover £6,531 from nine payments obtained by crooks. 

But the wider report which be debated by councillors shows the council’s fraud team prevented a number of attempts by fraudsters ranging from false invoice requests to bank detail changes. 

New statistics show the fraud team saved and clawed back thousands of pounds from illegal housing benefit and council tax claims – totalling £786,808. 

The figure obtained and reported fraud attempts occurred between October 2017 to September 2018. 

The report also highlights allegations from an external whistleblower who said a care company being paid by Doncaster Council had been overcharging for their services. 

The allegations also affected other local authorities and an investigation was launched by police. All care payments to the alleged supplier were investigated but no evidence of fraud or overcharging was detected and the case was dropped.

Documents show council bosses cancelled 1,120 council tax single person discounts after an investigation and review of over 21,000 households saving £280,500. 

Other figures show there were eight prosecutions and 19 cautions/warnings for people committing blue badge parking fraud.

Blue badge fraud occurs where individuals misuse use a badge issued to someone with reduced mobility.

This can include the use of badges by family or friends where the disabled person is not present or the use of badges where the individual the badge was issued to is now deceased.

Doncaster Magistrates’ Court issued fines totalling £3,043 to the eight defendants. 

A further 11 cases of reported blue badge fraud are currently being investigated. 

Around £24,000 was also recouped from 176 historic over payments of housing benefits. 

This came around following the reinstatement of recovery proceedings to the council who subsequently made further enquiries with residents. 

Figures show ‘proactive checks’ by council staff have prevented or recovered duplicate invoice of nearly £480,000. 

Nicola Frost-Wilson, internal audit manager, at Doncaster Council, said: “Fraud and corrupt activity divert scarce resources away from council services. 

“The cost the tax payer money that could have been used for the benefit of local citizens. Maintaining a strong counter fraud stance helps to minimise fraud losses and deter fraudulent activity.

“Doncaster Council aims to foster a zero tolerance approach to fraud and seeks to educate staff on identifying fraudulent behaviour, educate managers to assess the risks of fraud in their areas and to detect and investigate fraud where it is identified.”