Photoshop FAILURE fuels £8.5billion scam: How scammers send fake images to DWP

Photoshop FAILURE fuels £8.5billion scam: How scammers send fake images to DWP officials to keep cash flowing

  • The number of fraudulent claims has increased massively during the pandemic
  • Rough Photoshop images show people pretending to be at the door
  • A gang has been jailed over a scam involving claims on behalf of 188 fake children

A series of Photoshop errors has resulted in a £8.5billion scam as scammers send fake images to the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) to make money.

A man has been asked to take a picture of himself at his front door after DWP suspected he was claiming benefits in the UK while living abroad.

After receiving the image, it was clear that he had been crudely photoshopped into the scene.

Aside from a fairly obvious digital clipping around its outline, a Google Street View camera could be seen in the reflection of the car outside.

But this image is just one example of the thousands of fake documents that have been flooded into the DWP during the pandemic as the scam spiraled out of control.

Some photos sent to the DWP are clearly tampered with, as people claimed benefits in the UK while living abroad

Some photos sent to the DWP are clearly tampered with, as people claimed benefits in the UK while living abroad

People roughly photoshopped themselves into the scene to claim the benefits

People roughly photoshopped themselves into the scene to claim the benefits

The Times was given exclusive access to the DWP’s regional anti-fraud office in Newcastle, where digital forensic analysts and investigators are fighting bogus claims, hitting £8.5billion last year.

The number of people in need of welfare support rose sharply when the pandemic first hit Britain, but so did the number of fraudulent claims – fueled in part by gangs looking to take advantage of a relaxation of claim rules.

The DWP quickly established an expanded investigation team, staffed by 1,000 people in seven regional offices, to investigate suspicious activity. According to The Times, this successfully blocked tens of thousands of claims.

About 172,000 applications that appeared fraudulent were automatically suspended – with the applicants being interviewed to prove their innocence. These claims amounted to £2 billion.

The number of people in need of welfare support rose sharply when the pandemic first hit the UK, but so did the number of fraudulent claims

The number of people in need of welfare support rose sharply when the pandemic first hit the UK, but so did the number of fraudulent claims

However, applications from applicants deemed to be at risk were not blocked.

Officials at the Fraud, Compliance and Debt Directorate said scrapping Photoshop images played a significant role in saving taxpayers’ money.

An anonymous member of the analyst team said: “Over the past two years, the tram has received thousands of manipulated and fabricated documents to try to make claims abroad.

“Expert fraud officers can quickly identify, prevent and repair any emerging area of ​​fraud, and they need to be much more experienced when it comes to these fraud trends.”

In one fraud case, analysts found the same bright green door appeared in photos offered by a number of applicants who wanted to prove they lived in the UK.

In November, the Commons Public Accounts Committee released a report critical of the government’s response to fraud, saying there was no clear plan to deal with “unacceptably high” levels of false claims.

Ali Bana Mohamed, pictured, led a gang of six who made false claims for child support

Ali Bana Mohamed, pictured, led a gang of six who made false claims for child support

It comes as DWP recently received a £500m cash injection which will fund 2,000 specialists which it claims will generate savings of £2bn.

A senior leader of the expanded verification team said, “Many of these hijacked identities are people who have very high-paying jobs and may inadvertently be advertising on LinkedIn.”

Another citizen leader said: “It is important that we make the right decision because at the end there is a real citizen whose identity could be exploited for financial gain.”

In March, a gang of six was jailed for fraud with allegations on behalf of 188 made-up children.

Suspicion was raised when the IRS discovered that the same two phone numbers were calling the tax credit claim call center in connection with apparently unrelated claims.

The leader, Ali Bana Mohamed, was jailed for three and a half years after recruiting relatives and others to file bogus child support claims in about 70 different names.

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Emma Colton

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