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.