Dedicated reporting tools for coronavirus-related scams are being shuttered and case information transferred to law-enforcement entity
As government winds down the operations of its dedicated Covid fraud reporting service, the Cabinet Office has brought in a specialist tech supplier to support the migration of case-file data.
In October 2020 – in between the first and second national lockdowns – the government teamed up with charity Crimestoppers to launch a dedicated telephone and online service through which citizens could report individuals or businesses they suspected of defrauding Covid-related financial-support schemes.
The web tool for reporting fraud indicates that it stopped accepting submissions on 30 September 2022 “as HM government further builds its counter-fraud response”.
Anyone wishing to report suspected Covid fraudsters is now advised to email the National Investigation Service (NATIS) – a nationwide law-enforcement body that describes its remit as “investigating cross-border, large, complex, serious organised crime relating to the public sector”.
To support the ongoing “orderly cessation of the Covid-19 fraud hotline”, the Cabinet Office has signed a short-term contract with software firm Altia, which will provide the department with “three different data solutions”, according to a newly published procurement notice.
This will include “data migration of circa 6,000 lines of information from a spreadsheet into the case-management system”. Case-file data will then be transferred to NATIS in bulk from its current location in systems operated by the Public Sector Fraud Authority (PSFA) – a government unit jointly established last year by the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury.
The final strand of the contract covers the “creation of a portal to allow the Insolvency Service to access and search the… case-management system”.
The contract, which is valued at £29,250, came into effect on 30 November. All three of the objectives are to be completed by the deal’s conclusion on 31 March.
Government has claimed that there were 150 separate support programmes launched during the pandemic. In an update published in October, it indicated that there were “29 criminal investigations underway covering suspected fraudulent claims” related to three such initiatives: the furlough; self-employed support; and Eat out to Help Out schemes launched in 2020. The total value of these claims is £15m, the government added.
Headquartered in Nottingham, Altia specialises in “intelligence and investigation software” – including a case-management system it claims is used by entities “across local and central government, police forces and regional agencies”.