A Department for Work and Pensions staff member has pleaded guilty to defrauding the public purse to the tune of £41,446.50 by diverting cash into accounts set up using other people’s National Insurance numbers.
Caseworker Lauren Wainwright admitted the frauds – which took place via numerous transfers over a period of several months in 2017 and 2018 – at Blackpool Magistrates Court earlier this month.
Wainwright, of Thornton in Lancashire, is due to be sentenced at Preston Crown Court next month.
A DWP spokesperson said the department, which administers benefits and other payments to around 20 million people, had “zero-tolerance towards fraud”, whether it was perpetrated by claimants or staff.
“Any suspected cases are investigated by specialist staff who will refer all evidence immediately to the police, and we fully support any criminal investigations,” they said.
“Employees are subject to disciplinary action and dismissed where wrongdoing is proven.”
The Cross Government Fraud Landscape Report 2018, published by the Cabinet Office just before Christmas, said government departments had reported 11,530 allegations of suspected fraud in the 2016-17 financial year, a 32% increase on the previous 12 months.
The report said that total detected fraud had increased by 61% to £119m over the same period.
However it added that over the same period total recoveries had increased by 160% to £52m while prevented fraud increased by 36% to £45m.