FB pixel

UK’s £54M welfare fraud case illustrates need for biometric identity verification

UK’s £54M welfare fraud case illustrates need for biometric identity verification
 

A team of fraudsters has been convicted for what was described as “the largest case of benefit fraud in England and Wales.” The technically unsophisticated, mass-scale fraud was carried out with impersonation and forged documents against government systems that did not apply robust document checks or biometrics with presentation attack detection.

Using a combination of legitimate and fake identity documents, the five-member gang had stolen £53.9 million (US$67.1 million) from Universal Credit, the main welfare benefit in the UK. The team pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering offenses after their arrest in May 2021 and is currently awaiting sentencing at London’s Wood Green Crown Court slated for May 28.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutor Ben Reid noted that the case was the “largest benefit fraud prosecution ever brought to the courts in England and Wales.”

The scammers are Bulgarian citizens, three women and two men. Over four and a half years, the group made thousands of false claims for Universal Credit using either real people or stolen identities. The claims were made with forged documents such as fake tenancy agreements, payslips, letters from landlords, employers and more. The fraudsters would make multiple benefit applications until they were granted.

A comprehensive identity verification process would have applied both document authenticity checks and biometrics with liveness detection, which at least in theory could have protected the UK government’s benefits programs against the ID fraud.

The fraud operation worked through three “benefit factories” in London which claimed to assist people in obtaining insurance numbers and benefits to which they are entitled. The businesses, however, would claim benefits in the name of the applicants and then keep the money, laundering it through several accounts and withdrawing it in cash.

During the arrest, authorities found hundreds of forged and false documents as well as cash. One of the accomplices fled to Bulgaria but was later extradited back to the UK, according to the BBC.

“This was a complex and challenging case which required close and effective working between CPS prosecutors, the Department for Work and Pensions and our international partners in both Bulgaria and through the UK desk at Eurojust, to dismantle and successfully prosecute the organized crime group,” says Reid.

Related Posts

Article Topics

 |   |   |   |   | 

Latest Biometrics News

 

Could be 25 years before TSA gets facial recognition in all US airports

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) foresees significant delays in implementing facial recognition across U.S. airports if revenue continues to be…

 

Single solution for regulating AI unlikely as laws require flexibility and context

There is no more timely topic than the state of AI regulation around the globe, which is exactly what a…

 

Indonesia’s President launches platform to drive digital ID and service integration

In a bid to accelerate digital transformation in Indonesia, President Joko Widodo launched the Indonesian government’s new technology platform, INA…

 

MFA and passwordless authentication effective against growing identity threats

A new identity security trends report from the Identity Defined Security Alliance (IDSA) highlights the challenges companies continue to face…

 

Zighra behavioral biometrics contracted for Canadian government cybersecurity testing

Zighra has won a contract with Shared Services Canada (SSC) to protect digital identities with threat detection and Zero Trust…

 

Klick Labs develops deepfake detection method focusing on vocal biomarkers

The rise in deepfake audio technology has significant threats in various domains, such as personal privacy, political manipulation, and national…

Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Read This Week

Featured Company

Biometrics Insight, Opinion

Digital ID In-Depth

Biometrics White Papers

Biometrics Events