Government data matching finds fraud worth £215m

A bi-annual data-matching exercise comparing government databases has found evidence of £215 million-worth of fraud, according to the UK’s Audit Commission.

The amount discovered by the National Fraud Initiative, which looked at data from 2008 and 2009, was up 54% from the 2006/2007 survey.

The exercise works by tracing inconsistencies in government data relating to individuals. “For example, when data matching shows a person listed as dead and also in receipt of a pension, the relevant body will investigate and, if appropriate, stop pension payments,” a report on the NFI published yesterday explained.

The 2008/2009 NFI used “sophisticated computer techniques” to compare 8,000 datasets from 1,300 organisations. It found 3.5 million data “matches”, the report says (although ‘inconsistencies’ might be a better term), 5% of which required urgent action.

The exercise resulted in 269 prosecutions, the report said. There is still some way to go, however: The estimated cost of fraud to the UK economy is £7 billion a year.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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