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Oct 21 2013

Hall’s Got Balls: Harrow Council Leader Cracks Down on Blue Badge Fraud

harrow_council_logo2The anti-fraud team at Harrow Council is being boosted by the recruitment of two new officers as the authority cracks down on those who try to cheat the system. The appointment, which brings the number of specialist investigators at the council from four to six, is expected to save Harrow taxpayers a further £100,000 – on top of the £800,000 the anti-fraud team saved the council last year.

Harrow Council is now targeting five key areas of fraud:

  • blue badges
  • housing benefit
  • council tax support
  • housing
  • social care personal budgets.

Cllr Susan Hall, leader of Harrow Council, said action on fraud was a key part of the authority’s determination to create a cleaner, safer and fairer Harrow. She said: “The recruitment of two new officers is a value for money appointment as it will save taxpayers’ money. It is also our duty to catch people who are motivated by greed and believe they can play the system while others pay their fair share.”

The new officers will help in an area of investigation which is painstaking and frequently labour-intensive. In the case of housing benefit, for example, Harrow Council uses ‘data matching’ as a key tool to verify whether people are unfairly claiming benefits. This involves checking records where people claim for a single person status when in reality they are living as a couple, while others may fail to declare work and large amounts of savings in concealed accounts.

The work of Harrow Council’s fraud-busters in housing fraud has already paid dividends this year. In June, Chinele Ukachukwu and Roy Attuh were both sentenced to 12 month imprisonment suspended for 2 years after they invented a fake landlord and failed to declare that they were in a relationship in order to steal £80,000.

In October, a grandmother and her granddaughter were found guilty of housing benefit fraud totalling £31,000 after setting up a joint bank account for the money to be paid into. Leonie Cousin, 80, claimed benefit to pay rent to another invented landlord when in fact the property had been owned by her and her granddaughter Maria Henry who also lived there. Their fraud was discovered when her Ms Henry applied for a school place for her daughter using the grandmother’s address.

Last week (Thursday October 17th),  Harrow Council, working with Roxeth Safer Neighbourhood team, carried out an operation to check fraudulent use of “blue badges” which permit free parking for disabled motorists. Investigators identified seven badges which were potentially being misused and the suspects will now all be interviewed formally about the allegations in the coming weeks.  Parking Enforcement also issued 13 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) .

blue_badge_fraudIf anyone has information about a fraud they think is being committed in Harrow then we want to hear from you.  Allegations can be made by visiting www.harrow.gov.uk/fraud or by e-mailing fraud@harrow.gov.uk.  All information received by the team is recorded and treated with absolute confidence.

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6 comments

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  1. sonoo malkani

    Makes excellent sense.We should not allow fraudsters to take the mick out of unsuspecting folk and even try to rob tax-payers by applying for benefits to which they have no entitlement.The message must go out loud and clear to ALL fraudsters that THEY WILL BE CAUGHT and made to face the consequences of their criminal actions.

  2. Harrow Dude

    How about dealing with the senior management receiving substantial wages and giving very little in return. Surely that’s fraud…

  3. sonoo malkani

    Please consult your dictionary and digest the MEANING of the word fraud before making such inappropriate comments.Some of us may object to senior management in any company or job receiving what seems like enormous wage packets for little or no work.Again,that is a PERCEPTION.
    You are referring to stepped wage structures which have been determined by companies which they believe are commensurate with the responsibilities of the job.

    The fact that you or I may feel this is not fair does not make it FRAUD.Please let’s not get confused about genuine FRAUD which is a CRIME and highly paid people at the top of the scale.It’s the system followed world-wide.

  4. Harrow Dude (@Harrow_Dude)

    Fraud-Dictionary definition

    deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

    Digestion complete. Have a nice day…

  5. j p hobbs

    Kool Dude sounds right to me .

  6. j p hobbs

    After all soon the rest of the world will live in the UK and bring yet more crime .

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