Handwriting to help Govt catch gangs behind mass-scale benefit fraud

Artificial intelligence is going to be used to clamp down on cheats claiming bogus benefit payments worth millions of pounds. 05:32, UK … The connections are buried in billions of files, and it is thought the intelligent computer software will be able to increase prosecutions for whole groups of gangs.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said its new state-of-the-art algorithms can detect a number of identity cloning techniques which have been commonly used by organised criminal gangs committing mass-scale benefit fraud.

Under the system, investigators will be alerted to fraudsters who use the same phone number or a similar writing style while filling out different false claims.

The connections are buried in billions of files, and it is thought the intelligent computer software will be able to increase prosecutions for whole groups of gangs.

Currently, investigators target individual criminals after Jobcentre Plus workers raise concerns.

New technology can detect benefit fraud by identifying similar styles of handwriting
Image:New technology can detect benefit fraud by identifying similar styles of handwriting

The DWP says it has extensively trialled the technology, which will scan across the benefit system, including Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Personal Independent Payments.

Last year, about 5,000 people were prosecuted for benefit fraud and a record £1.1bn in overpaid benefits was recovered.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Gauke, said: “We are committed to tackling benefit fraud, especially from organised crime gangs, because it diverts money from the people who really need it.

“Our fraud investigators work tirelessly to bring criminals to justice and this is just one of the latest and innovative ways we are using cutting-edge technology to protect taxpayer’s money.”

Image:Connections between fraudsters are buried in billions of data files

In November, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £75m in funding for artificial intelligence.

Much of the investment will support start-up firms and raise the number of new PhD students in the field to 200 a year.

Funding will also reportedly go towards an advisory body to lift barriers to AI development.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

Artificial intelligence is being used to find benefit fraudsters

Artificial intelligence is to be used to hunt down and expose benefit fraudsters who cheat taxpayers of millions of pounds. The ‘smart robot’ investigators – high-tech computer programs – will be set to work to thwart mass benefit fraudsters. Ministers unveiled the move last night, boasting that the …
  • Artificial intelligence is being used to find benefit fraudsters
  • Ministers said it would detect identity cloning techniques and organised gangs
  • Benefit fraud is running at record levels of £2.1 billion a year

ByBrendan Carlin for The Mail on Sunday

Published: 00:56 GMT, 31 December 2017 | Updated: 02:04 GMT, 31 December 2017

Artificial intelligence is to be used to hunt down and expose benefit fraudsters who cheat taxpayers of millions of pounds.

The ‘smart robot’ investigators – high-tech computer programs – will be set to work to thwart mass benefit fraudsters.

Ministers unveiled the move last night, boasting that the sophisticated computer algorithms will detect fake identity cloning techniques and unmask organised gangs – not just individual benefit cheats.

The ‘smart robot’ investigators – high-tech computer programs – will be set to work to thwart mass benefit fraudsters (image taken from I, Robot film)

The ‘smart robot’ investigators – high-tech computer programs – will be set to work to thwart mass benefit fraudsters (image taken from I, Robot film)

The ‘smart robot’ investigators – high-tech computer programs – will be set to work to thwart mass benefit fraudsters (image taken from I, Robot film)

Critics said the new AI crackdown was long overdue, with benefit fraud running at record levels of nearly £2.1 billion a year.

Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke said the new technology was being introduced to ‘protect taxpayers’ money’.

He added: ‘We are already dealing with individuals who are wrongly claiming welfare payments and we now hope to further clamp down on organised crime gangs. Our fraud investigators work tirelessly to bring all criminals to justice.’

Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) officials said the computer systems were designed to enable specialist investigators to progress from catching individual benefit cheats to snaring entire gangs.

Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke said the new technology was being introduced to ‘protect taxpayers’ money’

Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke said the new technology was being introduced to ‘protect taxpayers’ money’

Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke said the new technology was being introduced to ‘protect taxpayers’ money’

They cited a case where a six-strong gang behind a £2.8 million benefit fraud, involving falsely obtained National Insurance numbers to claim handouts over seven years, was brought to justice last year. The gang was not caught by the use of AI, officials said, but was the sort of organised crime that should be exposed by the new technology.

The computer programs search for anomalies in billions of items of data.

Fraudsters who share a seemingly innocuous connection – such as the same phone number or similar handwriting when filling out different false claims – would be flagged up by the new technology.

The programs will scan right across the benefit system, including the controversial new Universal Credit as well as Jobseeker’s Allowance and the Personal Independent Payments.

Department officials insisted last night that the new computer checks posed no privacy problems.

One said: ‘It won’t go through Facebook pages and so on, but through DWP claims systems so there are no privacy concerns. It will also just be trained investigators who use it.’

They also insisted there was no extra cost because the new anti-fraud detection system had been developed and set up by the DWP’s own artificial intelligence team.

The new crackdown comes just weeks after it emerged that benefit fraud was running at the equivalent of £40 million a week, swallowing up almost £2.1 billion of the DWP’s annual budget of £174 billion.

The DWP said part of the reason reported fraud had risen was because of better detection.

Share or comment on this article

MOST READ NEWS

Comments 1

Share what you think

The comments below have not been moderated.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Add your comment

What’s This?

By posting your comment you agree to our house rules.

Close

Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?

Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.

No
Yes
Close

Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?

Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual

We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.

You can choose on each post whether you would like it to be posted to Facebook. Your details from Facebook will be used to provide you with tailored content, marketing and ads in line with our Privacy Policy.

Related Posts:

Ministers use artificial intelligence to target mass benefit fraud

Criminal gangs committing tens of millions of pounds worth of benefit fraud are being tracked down using newly-developed artificial intelligence, ministers have disclosed. Experts at the Department for Work and Pensions have produced computer algorithms that have been gradually rolled-out over the …

Fraud swallowed up almost £2.1 billion of the department’s total budget of £174 billion – the equivalent of £40 million per week.

The figures mean that the DWP now loses almost twice as much money to fraud as the entire budget of the Foreign Office, which is £1.1 billion per year.

MPs warned that Mr Gauke had “questions to answer” over why the figures have gone up despite repeated assurances that they would be brought under control.

The DWP claimed part of the reason fraud had gone up was because of better methods of gathering information on it.

Around 5,000 individuals were prosecuted for benefit fraud last year, with officials recovering £1.1bn in overpaid benefits.

The announcement about the use of AI to help tackle fraud follows the publication of a Government-commissioned report in October which found that artificial intelligence could add £630 billion to the UK economy.

The economic boost would come from a combination of more personalised services, improvements in health care and adopting machine learning to find ways to use resources more efficiently, according to the report.

To see that gain, the UK needed to do more to encourage businesses to deploy machine learning and artificial intelligence, it concluded.

Related Posts: