FRAUDSTERS have stolen £20million of public money by exploiting a loophole in the government’s universal credit scheme, an investigation claims.
Criminal gangs are using other people’s identities to apply online for the welfare payment and then claim advance loans on their behalf, according to a report by BBC News.
The cost of repayments are then passed on to fraudsters’ victims — who have no idea they have been signed up to the benefit.
The BBC said conmen are thought to have stolen around £20million in taxpayers’ money using universal credit and have been doing so at a rate four times that of other types of benefit fraud.
Some of the fake claims included an application from a ‘19-year-old with six blind children’ and another who wrote that England football captain Harry Kane was their landlord, it is claimed. A benefits official told the BBC that in one job centre more than a third of claims are currently suspected of being bogus.
Another official told the BBC that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimates ten per cent of the 100,000 or more advances paid monthly are potentially bogus.
The government did not deny the report yesterday.
DWP minister Baroness Peta Buscombe said: ‘Fraud and error in the benefit system remains low and we continue to work hard to identify and tackle any instances that occur.
‘Those involved in the despicable practice of preying on vulnerable people to steal their benefits are parasites, and we are determined to bring them to justice.’
People smuggler with 13 migrants in dinghy is jailed
A PEOPLE smuggler has been jailed for bringing migrants across the Channel in tiny inflatable dinghies. Sarbast Mohammed Hama, 31, of no fixed address, was jailed for 40 months at Lewes crown court in East Sussex after admitting assisting unlawful immigration. A Border Force patrol stopped him with 13 migrants in a dinghy near Folkestone, Kent, in March. He had previously been stopped in another dinghy on Christmas Day 2018, off Deal, Kent, with 10 Iraqis on board.